Secure, hassle-free Checkpoint of the Future aims to make air travel 'civilized'

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has unveiled the security Checkpoint of the Future, a system that is designed to reduce queues, do away with intrusive body searches and increase safety at airports - and which could be in operation within a couple of years.

IATA showed off a mock-up of the system at its 67th Annual General Meeting and the World Air Transport Summit in Singapore on Tuesday.

"We spend $7.4 billion a year to keep aviation secure. But our passengers only see hassle," said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the aviation organization. "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," he said. "We must make coordinated investments for civilized flying."

The main concepts behind the new system are improved security by focusing resources where the risk is greatest, support for this risk-based approach by integrating passenger information into the checkpoint process and maximizing throughput for the vast majority of travelers who are deemed to be low risk but without any compromise to security levels.

"Today's checkpoint was designed four decades ago to stop hijackers carrying metal weapons," said Bisignani. "Since then, we have grafted on more complex procedures to meet emerging threats. We are more secure, but it is time to rethink everything. We need a process that responds to today's threat.

"It must amalgamate intelligence based on passenger information and new technology," he said. "That means moving from a system that looks for bad objects, to one that can find bad people."

According to the association, The Checkpoint of the Future ends the one-size-fits-all concept for security.

Passengers approaching the checkpoint will be directed to one of three lanes: "known traveler," "normal" or "enhanced security." That determination will be based on a biometric identifier in the passport or other travel document that triggers the results of a risk assessment conducted by government before the passenger arrives at the airport.

The three security lanes will have technology to check passengers according to risk.

"Known travelers" who have registered and completed background checks with government authorities will have more rapid access, while "normal screening" will be for the majority of travelers.

For passengers about whom less information is available, who are randomly selected or who are deemed to be an "elevated risk," there will be an additional level of screening.

Screening technology is being developed that will allow passengers to walk through the checkpoint without having to remove clothes or unpack their belongings. In addition, IATA hopes that the security process can be combined with outbound customs and immigration procedures, further streamlining the passenger experience.

Nineteen governments are working through the International Civil Aviation Organization to define the standards required of the Checkpoint of the Future.

"We have the ability to move to the biometric scanning and three-lane concept right now," said Bisignani.

"And while some of the technology still needs to be developed, even by just re-purposing what we have today, we could see major changes in two or three years time."

JR

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