The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has unveiled a mock-up of its Checkpoint of the Future at a summit in Singapore. The new security scanning technology is designed to reduce queues, provide more thorough checks and do away with pat-downs.
Giovanni Bisignani, Iata’s director general and CEO, said: “We spend $7.4 billion a year to keep aviation secure. But our passengers only see hassle.”
“Passengers should be able to get from kerb to boarding gate with dignity. That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping. That is the mission for the Checkpoint of the Future. We must make coordinated investments for civilized flying.”
The new technology first sorts travellers into one of three categories – “known traveller”, “normal” and “enhanced security” – using a biometric identifier in the passport or other travel document.
Once the passenger is placed in the appropriate category, they are directed to one of three security lanes.
“Known travellers” who have registered and completed background checks with government authorities will have expedited access.
“Normal screening” would cover the majority of other travellers.
“Enhanced security,” for passengers about whom less information is available, who are randomly selected or who are deemed to be an “Elevated risk”, would feature an additional level of screening.
For most passengers this means significantly less time waiting in security lines. Rather than doing several separate screenings the new system does everything at once while the passenger is moving.
Screening technology is being developed that will allow passengers to walk through the checkpoint without having to remove clothes or unpack their belongings. Moreover, it is envisioned that the security process could be combined with outbound customs and immigration procedures, further streamlining the passenger experience.
While this is currently just a goal, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and 19 governments, including the United States, are working to define standards for a Checkpoint of the Future. Iata is also coordinating closely with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Checkpoint of Tomorrow program, which has similar goals.
“We have the ability to move to the biometric scanning and three-lane concept right now. And while some of the technology still needs to be developed, even by just re-purposing what we have today, we could see major changes in two or three years time,” said Bisignani.