Invisible Screening Measures to Enhance Airport Security

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Aviation industry experts said recently that authorities will incorporate more “invisible” screening measures to step up security in and around airports as they increasingly become targets for extremist activities.

According to, security in areas open to the public has been in the spotlight this year after a June suicide attack killed more than 40 people at Istanbul’s main airport, and March suicide attacks by Islamist bombers killed 16 people at Brussels airport. After the attack, Brussels set up tents outside the airport to screen passengers before entry, but industry officials say such a step only moves the target, rather than halting attacks.

Discreet screening measures that allow passengers and visitors to quickly get through security without crowding are likely to be adopted by airports and law enforcement, industry officials said at the AVSEC World conference on aviation security in Kuala Lumpur.

“It can be screening and profiling that you don’t even know is going on,” said Ross Lockie, Asia-Pacific regional officer for aviation security and facilitation, at the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. License plate readers, scanners and facial recognition technology that do the job in a less obvious and intrusive way will be adopted to screen passengers and others, the experts said. Besides smarter technology, more plainclothes police and greater behavioral analysis by staff or law enforcement are expected to be added.

Yener Cetinkaya, an assistant aviation expert at the Turkish Directorate General of Civil aviation explained that Turkey was also trying out new technologies after the June attacks. It has begun to train airport employees and others, such as shuttle and taxi drivers who have regular access to the airports, to do some screening on their own.

“Because they come to the airport very often, they are part of the security culture,” he said. Security fears have pushed governments in Europe to assign more police to guard airports, and officers armed with machine guns have become a more common sight.

“Landside security must be far more sophisticated, far more selective and automatic,” Henrik Hololei, director general of the European Commission’s transport department, said at the conference.