El Al and Boeing to sell airline security expertise

War on terrorism: Airline safety
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The Independent Online

El Al, the Israeli airline widely considered to be the world's most security-conscious carrier, is in talks to sell its anti-terrorism expertise to governments and airlines in a joint venture with Boeing.

The companies have signed a "memorandum of understanding" to set up a specialist aviation security operation to design technology and train personnel. Executives at El Al, which has long fitted its cockpits with armoured doors and carried armed guards on its flights, said it expected the new company to be a "worldwide leader" in the sector.

Airlines and aircraft makers including Boeing's rival Airbus have already announced plans to improve security. Thousands of commercial airliners are being fitted with lockable cockpit doors while a series of measures is under consideration, including CCTV cameras and reinforced cargo holds.

El Al, based in Tel Aviv, approached Boeing in response to the 11 September attacks on America after spotting what it felt would be a long-term market for improved security systems and expertise in airports and aircraft.

The Israeli airline is known for its tight security, requiring passengers to check in three hours before flights and accept strict identity checks and hand searches of baggage.

Boeing, which is shedding 20,000 jobs, said it would consider the new company as a source of knowledge for the entire sector.

Neither El Al nor Boeing was prepared to discuss details of the products the new company might sell to airlines, airports, governments and "other organisations". It is expected to offer specialist training on how to tackle terrorists and deal with attacks.