This opinion piece was written by Deborah Grau. The opinion of the author does not necessarily correspond with that of the editorial team. Want your opinion to be featured on AeroTime? Send us a line at editor@aerotime.aero.

Globalization increases the opportunities for travelers from all classes and nationalities to cross borders easily and freely. Every day, millions of people pass through airport doors and security screenings. Simultaneously, terrorists are obsessed with attacking airports because of the significant consequences for the country attacked. Aviation security is a critical component of national security which is costly, controversial to civil liberties and complicated.

There is an urgent need to establish up-to-date security processes and tools across the world. These will help to respond to the growth of passengers walking through airports, the aircraft movements at airports and political structures of countries. It might also require modifications in policies and regulation. While security procedures have improved since the Cuba hijackings in the 60s, the September 11 attacks and the latest attacks at airports in USA, Turkey, and Belgium, the current situation seems to be more complicated given the increased terrorism threat.

Since 2012, several countries have contacted the State of Israel to carry out training by security instructors and to receive an audit of aviation security. Israel has always emphasized the significance of maintaining adequate levels of employee training, awareness of the public and resources to maintain specific security standards. Security layers take place further from the gates in order to stop any armed or suspicious person from getting closer to the apron and the aircraft itself.

To enhance security levels, Tel Aviv airport has different security layers which require an incredible level of coordination between the people involved. This approach is based on random checks and on daily risk assessment.  The checkpoint far away from the main entrance of the terminal represents the first visible security layer. Every car is stopped for visual examination and inspecting agents use their knowledge and training in addition to the information collected and received in order to make a decision. They pay attention to the reaction of the passengers and drivers. In addition to those agents, the checkpoint is equipped with license plate reading (LPR) technology, which is capable of setting off an alarm in the event a number plate appears on a suspicious plates list. Dominique de Thillaud, CEO of Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport explained that the airport would like to implement the road checkpoints following the Israeli security design, two miles away from the terminal of the airport. However, it will be impossible because of the location of the airport, which is between the Mediterranean Sea and the main road of the South of France.

 

What profiling is all about?

Israeli security experts argue that profiling should be a normal process in which the Passenger Name Record is used. Indeed, these data help to divide passengers into groups and to differentiate them for risk mitigation. Intelligence is found in demographics, historical information and other data provided in booking details. When more than one of these indicators is identified, this would indicate that the passenger represents a high risk. This one should be verified deeper in order to decrease suspicions of a connection with terrorists and to prevent a potential attack on the aircraft or at the terminal.

In Europe, the term “profiling” is not used anymore because of racial connotations; passenger differentiation is used. The European directive requires airlines to transfer the passengers’ data (PNR) to the national Passenger Information Unit (PIU) of European countries and USA in order to assist the authorities in fighting terrorism and crime. The units will exchange data and process which are accessible for five years. Although some of the factors used are secret, airlines insist that race, religion, and origin are not relevant factors. Customs and immigration officers use similar techniques to prevent contraband from entering a country, and also identify people as the potential for criminal acts according to some indicators.