One of the most important security problems after 9/11 is aviation and airport security. Several governments took a series of important and strict security measures through which they tried to deter a new 9/11. This created the challenge of striking a balance between implementing security measures to deter terrorist attacks while at the same time limiting disruption to air commerce. Therefore, new techniques and methods were created in order to protect airports and aircraft from hijackings and bomb attempts and in parallel to create the least amount of disruption to the passengers.
The aforementioned situation created a new business opportunity and consequently a vast number of companies started to specialize in total solution packages for the airline industry. Throughout the world new companies created in order to advice airport authorities regarding security issues and furthermore to implement all the techniques used to protect airports and aircrafts from crime, such as personnel training, x-ray screening and passenger profiling. Furthermore the above mentioned companies offer training courses, usually based on hands-on experience and practice that help the employees of an airport to tackle with acts of crime.
One of the most traditional techniques that are used in order to prevent the creation of risky situation in airports and airplanes is the screening of passengers by a metal detector. Currently, more advanced explosive detection machines are being used in screening such as X-ray machines and Puffer Machines. A new technique to detect hidden weapons and explosives on passengers is the use of backscatter X-ray scanners. The aforementioned devices use Compton scattering and require that the passenger stand close to a flat panel and produce a high resolution image. In 2008, a new technology released in Israel, a country which has meticulously developed advanced techniques even before 9/11. The reason is that air traffic to and from Israel has always been a natural target for terrorists and consequently the country’s security experts have developed effective concepts. This new technique allows passengers to pass through metal detectors without removing their shoes, a process required as walk-though gate detectors are not reliable in detecting metal in shoes or on the lower body extremities.
Alternately, the passengers step fully shoed onto a device which scans in under 1.2 seconds for objects as small as a razor blade.
The incident of the twin towers on 9/11 is probably the most well known but even before that airports and airline securities were at risk. One of the world's first terrorist attacks intending to indiscriminately kill civilians while in flight was Cubana Flight 455. It happened on October 6, 1976, when a Cubana flight from Barbados to Jamaica was brought down killing 73 people. In 1985, the single deadliest airline catastrophe resulting from the failure of airport security to detect an on board bomb occurred during the Air India Flight 182. The aforementioned attack killed 329 people.
Every day new technologies are trying to alleviate air travel dangers and an important amount of money is spend in order to materialize the aforementioned scope. Nevertheless, there is no question that it is “money well spend” as hundreds of lives have been saved and countless attacks deterred.
Epicos Newsletter Head Editor