Improved airline security took stage center last week as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) hosted an historic aviation security summit with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano will spearhead what IATA says is a new era of industry/government cooperation to improve aviation security around the world.
The summit was held at IATA’s headquarters in Geneva and included the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), top executives from 25 airlines as well as participants from the U.S. government.
“The aviation industry is committed to keeping the global skies safe and secure," said Bisignani. "We live in a global world with global connectivity and global threats. The challenge is to protect the benefits of aviation connectivity and eliminate the threats. Governments and industry have the same goals but different expertise. Governments understand the threats and the tools needed to mitigate them. Industry has the operational expertise for effective implementation. Working together is the only way forward.”
Bisignani commended the fresh approach of the Obama administration to proactively engage industry. “We applaud Secretary Napolitano’s commitment to engage industry and find workable and effective solutions," he said. "A single meeting cannot solve all the security challenges we face but it is a major step in the right direction. We had a lot to teach each other and today is the start of a regular high-level dialogue on this critical issue. This cooperation should become a model for other countries to adopt.” IATA and DHS agreed to hold a follow-up meeting in the coming weeks.
During the meeting, IATA and its member airlines made several recommendations including:
* Institutionalizing government/industry cooperation: This would allow security policies to be written with the benefit of airline operational expertise. IATA encouraged ICAO to create a template for such cooperation to be implemented globally.
* Implementation: Recognize that prescriptive, one-size-fits-all regulations with numerical targets will not secure a complex global industry. Governments must work with industry to define practical implementation measures for their security targets.
* Passenger data collection: Make passenger data collection and sharing more efficient: IATA urged DHS to break down internal silos to create a single data collection and sharing program that could serve as a model for implementation by other governments.
* Harmonization across borders: Governments must talk to each other to ensure that one country’s requirements do not conflict with another country’s laws.
* Next generation checkpoint: Along with optimizing the capabilities of current screening technology, we must begin to look at future checkpoints that combine technology and intelligence.
“We need a checkpoint system that focuses on finding bad people, not just bad objects,” said Bisignani.