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TravelHaven Newsbrief – Achieving Global Aviation Security Goals

The Department of Homeland Security has made progress in reaching several goals set in the wake of the December 25th terrorist attempt last year.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will seek a formal resolution from the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) later this month to build on five regional security declarations obtained by the United States. Napolitano emphasized that world nations have a vested interest in adopting enhanced security standards to protect their citizens.

ICAO assisted the Obama administration in coordinating regional deals in Europe, the Western Hemisphere, the Asia/Pacific region, and the Middle East to bolster aviation security globally in summits that included elected leaders, security ministers, and airline officials. Each security declaration focuses on vulnerabilities in the international aviation system in four key areas: developing and deploying new security technology, strengthening aviation security measures and standards, enhancing information collection and sharing, and coordinating international technical assistance.

With regard to deploying new security technology, twelve nations have joined the United States in deploying advanced imaging technology (AIT). AIT devices are objectively better at detecting threatening items concealed on air passengers than traditional technologies like magnetometers. The DHS Secretary asserts that AITs are safe, fast, and efficient, and that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) enforces strict privacy safeguards in their use.

Presently, the United States has deployed more than 180 AIT devices at 45 airports nationwide. DHS plans to use funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to purchase more of the devices and to deploy them in the coming months. The department also will use Recovery Act funds to buy 1,500 more next-generation explosive trade detection machines to screen for explosives at passenger checkpoints and checked luggage stations.

TSA recently assumed the process of vetting airline passenger manifests against terrorist watchlists for all domestic and international flights operated by US domestic carriers. The agency also plans to extend that capability to international carriers by the end of the year under its Secure Flight program.

In April, TSA initiated new risk-based protocols to apply real-time intelligence-based targeting to identify potentially threatening individuals before they board an aircraft. These measures are tailored to reflect the most current threat information available to the US intelligence community.

TSA also achieved 100 percent scanning of air cargo originating in the United States traveling onboard domestic passenger flights this summer. Napolitano thanked the Air Line Pilots Association for its assistance in shaping and informing the cargo scanning requirements under that program.