A Personal View Expressed by Norman Shanks

How many times have you read or heard during a presentation that aviation security today is essentially reactive and does not have an ounce of proactive thinking included in the process? I suspect that most of us have been guilty of, at least, thinking this if not actually claiming so in public. I am not ashamed to admit that I have. That, however, does not mean that I have not had some proactive thoughts myself; the problem is convincing those in a position to do something that action ought to be taken. It is surprising (or perhaps not!) that many former legislators suddenly have an epiphany of what needs to be done as a proactive measure as soon as they retire; it is just a pity that they did not express the vision when they were in a position to champion change. Or am I being too harsh on them? Is it actually the avsec machine that prevents us from taking a proactive stance?

Thinking back on my career in aviation security, I have had some original, or what I thought to be original, thoughts. Sometimes I did not follow through on them. One such instance was in the late 1990’s, during a Gordon Research Conference in New London, Connecticut. This conference was aimed at developing and future scientific discoverers, basically the white coats who would be designing the technical security solutions of the future. Typical of many conferences are the networking sessions that follow on into the evening, without exception facilitated by free flowing liquid thought inducers!

I vividly remember, together with a practitioner colleague, sowing the seeds of a hair-brained, but simple, scheme to make air travel safer without the use of expensive and complex technology. It was simply to ban all checked baggage in the aircraft hold and, instead, offer an all-in service by providing passengers with clothing and other holiday or business trip essentials at the point of arrival! (Wait a minute! Did we not take a similar draconian measure in respect of carry-on baggage as a response to the 2006 liquid bomb plot?) The idea was based on the traveller renting preselected clothing, travel essentials and other necessary items from an online catalogue and picking them up upon arrival after border controls.

 

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