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New airport security system tried out at IATA conference

By | June 23rd 2011

Philip Mwakio

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) unveiled the first mock-up of a Checkpoint of the Future.

The new system is designed to enhance security at airports and plans while reducing queues and intrusive searches on passengers, using intelligence-driven risk-based measures.

IATA’s Checkpoint of the Future is being shown to delegates attending the Association’s 67th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit, in Singapore.

"We spend $7.4 billion a year to keep aviation secure. But our passengers only see hassles. Passengers should be able to get from cabs to boarding gates with dignity. That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping. That is the mission for the Checkpoint of the Future. We must make coordinated investments for civilized flying," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

The concept is aimed at strengthening security by focusing resources where risk is greatest.

The concept seeks to support this risk-based approach by integrating passenger information into the checkpoint process.

It will also maximize throughput for the vast majority of travellers deemed to be low risk with no compromise on security levels.

"Today’s checkpoint was designed four decades ago to stop hijackers carrying metal weapons. Since then, we have grafted on more complex procedures to meet emerging threats.

We are more secure, but it is time to rethink everything. We need a process that responds to today’s threat. It must amalgamate intelligence based on passenger information and new technology,’’ Bisignani said.

The Checkpoint of the Future ends the one-size-fits-all concept for security. Passengers approaching the checkpoint will be directed to one of three lanes: ‘known traveller’, ‘normal’, and ‘enhanced security’. The determination will be based on a biometric identifier in the passport or other travel document that triggers the results of a risk assessment conducted by government before the passenger arrives at the airport.

"Known travellers" who have registered and completed background checks with authorities will have expedited access. "Normal screening" would be for the majority of travellers. And those passengers for whom less information is available, who are randomly selected or who are deemed to be an "Elevated risk" would have an additional level of screening.

Screening technology is being developed and will allow passengers to walk through the checkpoint without having to remove clothes or unpack their belongings.

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