(by Alex Kennedy, YahooNews.com) SINGAPORE (AP) – Eye scanners and futuristic security tunnels may be standard in airports soon as the airline industry seeks to maintain safety while reducing the hassles of boarding a plane that deter some people from flying.

The International Air Transport Association [IATA] unveiled a mock-up Tuesday in Singapore of what it dubbed the “Checkpoint of the Future,” where passengers separated by security risk would walk through one of three high-tech, 20-foot-long tunnels that can quickly scan shoes and carry-on luggage and check for liquids and explosives.

“Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity,” IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said. “That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping.”

Airlines are seeking ways to win back passengers put off by long and irritating airport security measures who have opted to travel instead by train, boat or car. IATA said Monday it expects the industry’s profit this year to plummet to $4 billion from $18 billion last year.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration [TSA] chief John Pistole said he thinks IATA’s security system, which it hopes to implement within five years, is a great idea.

“It’s something that’s long overdue,” Pistole said at IATA’s annual conference. “We’re not at the checkpoint of the future yet but we’re working toward that. I think eventually we will see something similar.”

The TSA has been working for the last six months on developing a system that could differentiate [separate] passengers by security risk to cut down on needless checks, Pistole said.

“One size does not fit all,” Pistole said.

The TSA will likely start a pilot program this year in some airports that allows frequent flyers or other travelers with clean records to receive minimal checks, he said.

In the IATA prototype, passengers would be categorized based on the results of a government risk assessment that is put into a chip in a passenger’s passport or other identification. An eye scan would then match the passenger to the passport.

Low-risk passengers would walk through a tunnel with their carry-on luggage in just a few minutes – much quicker than the current average security screening of 35 minutes, IATA said. High-risk passengers would be directed to walk through the tunnel that performs a full body scan while searching for items like explosives.

“We must amalgamate [combine] intelligence based on passenger information and new technology,” Bisignani said. “That means moving from a system that looks for bad objects, to one that can find bad people.”

Former Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Tony Tyler replaces Bisignani as IATA’s leader next month. Geneva-based IATA represents about 230 airlines that account for more than 90 percent global air traffic.

One obstacle to the proposed system is that governments could be reluctant to share passenger background information, said Ron Noble, secretary-general of Interpol, the France-based international police agency.

“Most countries don’t want other countries to have data of their citizens,” Noble said.

Airline executives were also concerned about whether the new system would rely too much on technology at the expense of human observation.

“Only technology is not the solution,” said Elyezer Shkedy, chief executive of El Al Israel Airlines. “You must always change your way of defending. Otherwise, terrorists will find your weak points.”

Copyright ©2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. The information contained in this AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of the Associated Press.  Visit news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110607/ap_on_re_us/as_iata_airport_security_4 for the original post.


1.  What is the IATA?

2.  Regarding the IATA’s “Checkpoint of the Future”:
a)  How does it work? (see para. 2, 10-11)
b)  What is its purpose?

3.  What type of program will the U.S. TSA probably launch this year? (para. 9-10)

4.  Do you agree with IATA head Giovanni Bisignani’s statements below?  Explain your answer.

  • “Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity. That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping.” (from para. 3)
  • “We must amalgamate intelligence based on passenger information and new technology. That means moving from a system that looks for bad objects, to one that can find bad people.” (from para. 12)

5.  The head of Interpol thinks that an obstacle to the IATA’s checkpoint will be that governments will not want to share information about their citizens with other countries.  Another obstacle not mentioned in the article could be the fact that U.S. (and other) citizens might not want to give personal information (including retina scans, etc.) over to airport security.  Also not mentioned in the article is what type of scanning machine people with no security risk will need to go through (what the machine will scan).  What do you think: is it too late for those opposed to sharing such personal information (body and/or retina scans) to do anything about it?  Is there an alternate way to prevent terrorists from boarding planes?  Explain your answers.

6.  a) What concern does Elyezer Shkedy of El Al Israel Airlines have about the new “Checkpoint” program? 
b)  Do you agree with his assertion?  Explain your answer.



  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an international industry trade group of airlines headquartered in Montreal, Canada, where the International Civil Aviation Organization is also headquartered. The executive offices are at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland.
  • IATA’s mission is to represent, lead, and serve the airline industry. IATA represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic. The Director General and Chief Executive Officer is Giovanni Bisignani. Currently, IATA is present in over 150 countries covered through 101 offices around the globe.
  • IATA’s stated mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry. All the Airline rules and regulations are defined by IATA. The main aim of IATA is to provide safe and secure transportation to its passengers. (from wikipedia)

U.S. Airlines that are members of IATA include:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Atlas Air
  • Continental Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Federal Express
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • United Airlines
  • UPS Airlines
  • US Airways, Inc.


Visit the IATA website for photos of “Checkpoint of the Future” at iata.org/events/agm/2011/gallery/Pages/checkpoint-gallery.aspx.

Watch a video from IATA on its “Checkpoint of the Future” below:



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