Norman Shanks - Articles and news items
Issue 3 2012 • 1 June 2012 • Norman Shanks, Professor in Aviation Security, Coventry University
One of the universal truths about modern air travel is that nobody likes the passenger pre-board screening process. Whilst pass - engers questioned immediately after a successful or foiled terrorist attack will readily say that they accept the pre-board screening process as it is there to ensure their safety, opinion changes after a few months when their memory, or more often media coverage of these events, fades into the background.Pre-board screening in one form or another has been a feature of air travel for the past 60 or so years, but it was really in the early 1970s that the process that we are familiar with today began to affect all air travel. It grew out of the spate of middle eastern inspired terrorist hijackings following high-profile incidents, such as Dawson’s Field in Jordan in 1970, when the requirement for screening passengers (for hijack weapons) was brought under ICAO’s remit.Passengers are screened by metal detection equipment, normally walk-through metal detectors, with a physical search or ‘pat-down’ for those passengers who cause the archway to alarm. A modern variation of this in some locations such as Europe, is for a percentage of those passengers who have not caused the system to alarm to also be subject to a physical search in recognition that not all weapons are metallic and screening passengers relies heavily on equipment designed to detect these metallic weapons.
Despite enhancements since 9/11, recognition is growing that work remains to be done before the level of security desired for passengers and their carry on baggage is reached.