Security systems are under investigation at JFK Airport after a jet skier looking for help managed to climb a fence and make his way across two runways.
The £63m Perimeter Intrusion Detection System failed to detect Daniel Casillo, 31, as he climbed a 2.5 metre fence after swimming towards the lights of JFK's runway 4L after running out of jet ski fuel in Jamaica Bay.
The runway in question juts out into the bay, and Casillo told officers he was "just looking for help", according to news.com.au.
Dripping wet and wearing a bright yellow life jacket, Casillo managed to make his way across two runways - a distance of two miles - before being spotted by an airline employee.
Port Authority police questioned Mr Casillo and charged him with criminal trespassing; he is due in court on 2 October.
New York City Detective Nicholas Casale told news.com.au: "The catastrophic failure was that nobody sounded the alarm to go to condition red intruder alert.
"Immediately there should've been an armed response. Heavy weapons, armoured cars to the area that the perimeter was breached. The airport should have been locked down.''
"This system is made specifically for those types of threats - water-borne threats,'' Egbert said. "It did not detect him climbing over a fence. It did not detect him crossing two active runways."
Authorities said the airport grounds were clearly marked with no-trespassing signs that indicate it is a "restricted area for authorised personnel only".
According to the Press Association, the Port Authority said in a statement: "We have called for an expedited review of the incident and a complete investigation to determine how Raytheon's perimeter intrusion detection system - which exceeds federal requirements - could be improved."
The agency offered no explanation of what went wrong or whether it was human error or equipment failure.
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