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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 105 (Suppl.), December 2007






                     Mr. Iain Jack

      Senior Security Advisor, Europe

International Air Transport Association


Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I will divide my presentation into four parts: 

* General Regulatory Framework

* Aircraft Protection

* Air Cargo Security, and

* Passenger and Baggage Screening 

I. General Regulatory Framework

International aviation security standards are set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and are contained in Annex 17 to their aviation policy document. Signatory States are required to base their National Civil Aviation Security Programmes (NCASPs) on the Standards and Recommended Practices contained in Annex 17. Airports and airlines are required to submit security programmes in compliance with State NCASPs to States in which they are located (airports) or from which they provide services or are registered (airlines). 

II. Aircraft Protection

Since 9/11 aircraft cockpits have been protected by armoured cockpit doors which are required to remain locked whilst in fight – only to be opened under strict control. In many cases the flight crew are provided with visual surveillance of the cockpit doors to provide confirmation on entry.

Some States provide armed ‘Sky Marshals’ who travel under cover to give security protection to passengers and crew.

A threat to aircraft in flight has developed with Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) falling into terrorist hands and there have been several incidents of MANPADS attacks in the last three years. Research is ongoing into the feasibility of mounting countermeasures on-board civil aircraft, but the best way of countering MANPADS attacks is to have ground surveillance where there is a threat of such an attack.

Other ways of protecting aircraft are being investigated, but retrofitting aircraft in service is prohibitively expensive. 

III. Air Cargo Security

This is a complex issue, as it is not possible to inspect all cargo by x-ray screening as the volumes are too great. However, the complexity of the cargo supply chain makes it nearly impossible to know which aircraft a consignment will be carried on. However, the cargo supply chain does provide security assurance through the network of Regulated Agents, Known Consignors and Account Consignor, all of whom are responsible for the security of the cargo they deliver to air carriers. 

IV. Passenger and Baggage Processing

Since 31 December 2002, all hold baggage carried on board passenger aircraft has to be inspected by screening under an ICAO Annex 17 Standard which came into force on that date. There are a variety of methods which can be used to achieve this; one of these is to inspect all bags by hand searching. However, that is a measure only used in circumstances of high threat or where baggage volumes are very low. At large airports, the screening process normally uses ‘Smart’ x-ray systems supplemented by staff intervention where there are concerns identified by the equipment.

The experience which I expect all of you will have had is of the ‘Central Search’ process applied to all passengers and their cabin baggage. This has to be continually adjusted as new threats are identified. There was the `Shoe Bomber` Richard Read; his legacy is that we often have to remove our shoes for inspection. Most recently on 10/8, the Liquids Bomb threat was uncovered in UK. You can now take small (100ml) containers in a one litre bag into the cabin, but many problems remain over the carriage of ‘Duty Free’ liquid items carried by transferring passengers. We are working on a solution to this problem, but it will take some time to deliver this. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your attention.

I hope that I have provided you with assurance that aviation security measures are commensurate with the threat facing the aviation industry and that you can pass these assurances on to the passengers and staff whom you meet in the course of your work.

I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.