'We Had To Find Ways To Harden The Airport'

By Gary Mott

Sept. 6, 2011

WGBH asked Bostonians and Massachusetts residents of all stripes — from security officials to comedians to a yoga teacher — to reflect on their experience of Sept. 11 and its aftermath. We'll air them all week.

Ed Freni sits in his office at Boston Logan Airport. (Luke Boelitz for WGBH)

On Sept. 11, Ed Freni was Director of Aviation Operations for Logan Airport. Today, he is Director of Aviation for three airports owned by Massport: Logan, Hanscom Airfield and Worcester Regional Airport.

I’m responsible for all operations, safety and security, to maintenance of buildings, to plowing of runways. The whole gamut of what you see at Logan and all the other airports.
(On Sept. 11,) the whole world changed, as you know, and certainly in the airline part of the business, the airport operations part of the business changed. We’ve been under the microscope ever since that day, and anything that we do gets a lot more scrutiny.
On 9/11, I was headed to a training session, a mandatory management training session which was ironically called, “How to deliver bad news.” I was about to enter the classroom and I had just briefed my boss of the daily operation. It was a beautiful day, sky was clear, everything was running very smoothly as far as operations are concerned. Soon as I got off that phone with that conversation, my deputy called me to inform me that there may have been a small aircraft that had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York that may have launched from Logan Airport. We then found out that it could possibly have been an American Airlines airplane that had crashed that launched from Logan. And then, shortly after that, as you know, Flight 175 went into the other tower, and it was a United flight that had left Logan Airport.
It was extremely surreal, I mean, it was an eerie feeling. We had to really think straight and strategically, we had to tow 2700 vehicles out of our Terminal B garage, which was located between our two terminals, because the FAA continuously were sending advisories on what you were regulated to do as far as security for the airport.
We really focused on trying to help the customers and their families, you know, and Cardinal Law at the time had gone over to the Family Care Center and spoken to the families. All this was going on, it just kept us so busy, it was just it's hard to kind of describe the feeling. It was a very empty feeling, it just made you feel like this was some kind of dream, and it really wasn't happening.
Certainly, I think about it every day. But my focus changed. You know, I was strong customer service, but I’m stronger in safety and security now. We had to find ways to harden the airport as a target. We work on it everyday to improve and make sure that people that travel through Logan Airport are safe and secure, they feel that was when they get in there.
There’s no doubt.

Ed Freni is seen in his office. (Luke Boelitz for WGBH)

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