IATA and DHS Agree On Aviation Security Cooperation

“The aviation industry is committed to keeping the global skies safe and secure,” emphasized Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), at a recent summit with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “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.”

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.

Bisignani commended the Obama administration’s willingness to proactively engage industry. “We applaud DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s commitment to engage industry and find workable and effective solutions. A single meeting cannot solve all the security challenges we face but it is a major step in the right direction.”

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, the industry must 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.

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