AVSEC World Day discussed the various risks prevalent in the industry, from the threat of the insider to conflict zones.

Aviation security

In his keynote speech at AVSEC World Day in Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, European Commission, said the entire aviation value chain has a role to play in keeping the industry safe as threats to aviation will not go away.

A session looking ahead to 2030 examined how these threats will determine the future framework of aviation security.

For passengers, aviation security means the checkpoint. By 2030, it is expected that the better use of data and new technologies and processes will all be involved in mitigating much of the checkpoint stress endured today. 

Technology [to improve security] needs to be well guided. We need to build more collaborative relationships with governments and regulators

Risk assessments will be carried out in advance and screening technologies will be more discrete and possibly decentralized, happening at gates or along corridors rather than in a central location.

But to achieve these goals, high-level changes have to be made. Michael O’Connell, Vice President, NEC Europe, said he believed that the foundations for aviation security in 2030 are already in place but there are issues to be resolved.

“Technology needs to be well guided,” he said. “We need to build more collaborative relationships with governments and regulators.”

That relationship needs to determine the standards needed for relevant and successful product design, with O’Connell citing facial recognition as an area that would benefit from a more coherent structure.

How technology is applied will be equally crucial. The industry will need to facilitate the movement of some 7 billion passengers by 2030. To cope with this demand, and given limited infrastructure development, the trend is to move airport processes off-site. Technologies will need to adapt to new environments and data shared along the entire journey.

Though the increasing use of data and technology brings new cyber threats, Patricia Cogswell, Deputy Administrator, US Transportation Security Administration, stressed that existing threats will not go away. People will still try to smuggle a gun or knife onboard, she suggested.

An integrated, risk management approach is therefore essential, capable of dealing with known risks as well as emerging threats. New algorithms will be needed for new areas of concern. Referencing the Seattle-Tacoma airport incident, where a security-cleared individual stole and crashed an aircraft, Cogswell noted that the insider threat is one example of an area ripe for enhancements. 

Rich Davis, Managing Director, Global Security, United Airlines, meanwhile, asked what driverless cars might mean to airport security design or how surgically-implanted explosive devices might be detected.

He concluded that customers in 2030 may still not be entirely happy with security processes and requirements, but agreed that collaboration was the best way forward. “Everybody has a role to play in protecting airlines, airports, and passengers,” he said.