The International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week unveiled its first mock-up of an airport checkpoint of the future concept that features an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach that includes technology to balance security and convenience for airline passengers.
The mock-up was unveiled at an IATA meeting in Singapore and is very simplistic in appearance, consisting of three 20-foot security tunnels, one for known travelers, another for normal screening and the third for enhanced security. As passengers approach the checkpoint, they are directed to one of the three lanes based on the information that is known, or not known about them.
Known travelers are those who have registered and supplied information for government background checks and will benefit by receiving expedited access through the checkpoint. Normal screening is for the majority of passengers while the enhanced security will provide an additional level of screening for randomly selected passengers and those deemed to be higher risk.
In IATA’s concept, travelers are verified at the entrance to each screening lane using a biometric, in this case an iris scan that corresponds to a biometric that is in their passport or other travel document.
For known travelers, the screening they and or their carry-on bags would be subject to includes conventional X-ray, metal detector and liquid detection. Travelers and their bags going through the normal screening lane would also be subject to conventional X-ray machines, metal detectors, liquid detectors, shoe scanners and explosive trace detectors, according to the IATA mock-up.
Passengers who are deemed an elevated risk or who are randomly selected for the enhanced security lane would be subject to Advanced Technology X-ray machines, which are typically found at U.S. airports for all carry-on bags, metal and liquid detectors, shoe scanners, explosive trace detection, and whole body imagers, according to the mock-up.
“We have the ability to move to the biometric scanning and three-lane concept right now,” Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of IATA, said at the organization’s 67th Annual General Meeting.
Improving the passenger experience at airport checkpoints throughout the world is a top priority for IATA, Bisignani said.
“We spend $7.4 billion a year to keep aviation secure,” Bisignani said. “But our passengers only see hassle. Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity. That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping. That is the mission for the checkpoint of the future.”
The checkpoint of the future mock-up is the realization of a concept discussed by IATA in December when the organization said there needs to be a total security picture of the traveler and the creation of security lanes commensurate with the risk each passenger presents.
IATA’s push for a better airport checkpoint screening model coincides with United States Transportation Security Administration Chief John Pistole’s examination of a risk-based approach to aviation security that would also sort passengers and the level of screening they are subject to according to potential threat they represent.
IATA said that the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency within the United Nations, along with the United States and 18 other governments are working to define standards for a checkpoint of the future. IATA is also working with the Department of Homeland Security on its “Checkpoint of Tomorrow” program, the organization said.