Airport executives mull security changes

 - May 22, 2008, 6:19 AM

“We have 700 million passengers each year and we can’t treat them all as terrorists,” American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) president Chip Barclay told nearly 500 people attending a late-October “Aviation Security Summit” at the NTSB’s headquarters in Washington.

AAAE called the one-day briefing on the recent security changes and how they will affect the industry. The discussion included a status update of the current security system, an FAA security policy update, briefings on legislative initiatives, the effects of increased security on the general aviation community, funding and revenue impacts and future initiatives. The session was not open to the media or the public.

Erin Travis, communications director for legislative affairs for AAAE and the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), said there were panels on “FAA Perspectives of Security, Policy and Funding,” “Economic, Business and Financial Outlooks” and “General Aviation Security and Air Traffic Perspectives,” as well as a presentation by Gerald Dillingham, director of physical infrastructure issues for the General Accounting Office.

Several security technology companies exhibited at the summit, and breakout sessions were held for airport operators and industry representatives to talk about security operations, airport project and funding considerations and issues specific to general aviation.

According to Travis, Barclay also discussed so-called “smart cards” and other credentials that are becoming available, and the need to restore some efficiency to the system, although not at the expense of security. The AAAE president admitted that currently it can sometimes can take two hours on each end of a business trip to get somewhere, which can make a one-day business trip impractical.

Barclay served on one of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta’s “rapid response teams” to make security recommendations immediately following the attacks in New York and Washington, and one of its suggestions was to use technology to improve passenger screening.