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Special Report - History Lessons

Aviation security underwent a complete overhaul as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Previously, hijackings and air rage had dominated discussions about security. But now the threat of an aircraft as a weapon of mass destruction had to be tackled.

The years since then have marked a struggle to approximate the approach that has proved so successful with safety. However, cooperation and global standards have not been easy to come by in matters of security. The difficulties the United States and the European Union have in resolving Passenger Name Records illustrate the point.

“Airlines still face a maze of regulations over PNR,” says Ken Dunlap, IATA Security Director. “If we could harmonize message standards it would save at least $150 million. We need to do much more to integrate security requirements into an experience that is effective, efficient and convenient.”

Progress in defining global security standards has also been stifled by the clutter of knee-jerk measures. Whether or not to screen shoes and the limitations imposed on liquids and gels signal the challenges involved. Parochial regulations have been quick on the draw. Their demise is slow and lingering.

Emphasis must be put on bad people and not bad objects. Proactive use of intelligence data should be combined with new technologies, and harmonized throughout the world. Security needs to prevent another 9/11.


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