The IATA on Wednesday urged the United States to work with the airline industry to find ways to close security gaps, as it warned that the industry could not support 100-percent passenger searches in the long term.

"Long-term solutions must include improved technology and effective risk assessment techniques," said the International Air Transport Association's chief Giovanni Bisignani in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano after the foiled Christmas Day terrorist attack.

"The air transport system cannot support 100 percent pat-down searches over the long term," he added.

"Instead of looking for bad things - nail clippers and rogue bottles of shampoo, security systems need to focus on finding bad people. Adding new hardware to an old system will not deliver the results we need," said Bisignani.

He pointed out rather than depending on individual searches, technologies should be coupled with intelligence gathering in screening procedures.

"It is time for governments to invest in a process built around a check point of the future that combines the best of screening technology with the best of intelligence gathering.

"Such a system would give screeners access to important passenger data to make effective risk assessments," he added.