Wednesday, September 27, 2006

BALPA: Seven new security steps

British pilots are unhappy with certain aspects of current airport and aviation security procedures. The Chairman of the British Air Line Pilots' Association (BALPA), a union with over 9,000 members, has sent a letter to U.K. Transport Minister Douglas Alexander expressing the pilots' frustrations and proposing some remedies.

The pilots say that problems at national level are worsened by different interpretations of security measures by local airport security staff, a situation that "frankly gives security a bad name." BALPA wants the government to agree on a list of items that pilots can carry onto their aircraft, which they need to do their job, and which are being removed from them as they pass through security. They complain that flying licenses, log books, laptops and even contact lens cleaner have been taken from them and in some instances lost.

Here is BALPA's list of proposed remedies to address airport security as it applies to crew:
  • Develop a central international biometric security pass system for all pilots so that pilots can be identified and travel through airports more easily.
  • Speed up passenger profiling and new technology such as body scanners, semi-automatic x-ray machines and bottle scanners for essential medicine, and require all airport operators to have a dedicated fast track channel for pilots.
  • Insist on the application of a consistent security regime, getting rid of anomalies between airports.
  • Require all airport operators to establish an operational task group so that employee representatives can meet security directors face to face and iron out problems.
  • Review the standards of recruitment and training of security staff. Give them decent conditions and more power to exercise discretion.
  • Accelerate the fitment of hardened cockpit doors for cargo aircraft. Cargo aircraft often carry non-security-cleared personnel. Both types of aircraft can be weapons of mass destruction. In addition, freight profiling to determine which cargo needs particularly careful screening.
Finally BALPA urges the Government to help more with the cost of these measures. Too much of the cost of security is borne by the industry.

Says Captain Mervyn Granshaw, Chairman of BALPA: "We want to work with the Government but too many pilots feel that the system is conspiring to make their jobs more difficult rather than improving security.

"Some of the measures we are calling for assist and enhance the security of passengers directly. Others assist us, as the pilots, to do our job and not be burdened by unnecessary and often inconsistent applications. This is not about special pleading; it is about recognising that we are in a different position. And of course, if we cannot do our jobs properly, that puts passengers at risk too."
Source: British Pilots Call for Seven New Security Steps - BALPA News

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