Saturday, July 01, 2017

U.S. Pushes Foreign Airports to Install Explosives Scanners Within 21 Days: Domestic and international carriers are getting four months to make other security enhancements

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey 
July 1, 2017 4:02 p.m. ET

The 280 airports that send direct flights to the U.S. must have explosives-detecting scanners within 21 days, one step the Department of Homeland Security has mandated to avoid a broader ban on laptops aboard flights.

U.S. officials are giving 180 affected domestic and international airlines four months to make other security enhancements including more intensive passenger screening and monitoring of planes on the ground, according to a memo the International Air Transport Association sent to its member carriers after the DHS announced new security measures on Wednesday.

The memo, which hasn’t been made public, was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and earlier reported by the New York Times .

IATA also said foreign airports that fail to install explosive-trace detection scanners along with procedures to use them to scan carry-on bags at random could face a ban on carrying laptops into the cabin or a suspension of flights to the U.S.

An IATA spokesman declined to comment. The trade body’s leader, Alexandre de Juniac, said last week that the “aggressive implementation timeline will…be challenging.”

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has warned for months that terrorists are aiming to take down a plane with explosives hidden in a laptop. In March, he banned personal electronic devices in the cabins of planes flying to the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. That prohibition could be lifted if those airports and airlines meet the new edits.

Mr. Kelly later suggested widening the ban as drastically as to cover all foreign flights in and out of the U.S. After consulting airlines and foreign aviation officials, he settled on the mandates laid out on Wednesday, which affect about 325,000 passengers a day flying from airports in 105 nations.

A DHS official declined to confirm the timeline laid out in the IATA memo, saying that doing so could compromise aviation security. “We don’t want to tell our adversaries what we’re doing,” the official said.

The official confirmed that DHS intends to work with airlines that may not be able to install the machines promptly. Interim steps could shore up security while airlines works toward compliance, the official said. Carriers that don’t comply or agree to a plan to do so could face fines, a ban on laptops in the cabin and the cargo hold, or a ban on flying to the U.S., the official added.

“We’re going to be reasonable with them,” he said.

The global airports trade group couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, nor could the leading Asian airline trade association.

The DHS official said many of the affected airports already have the scanners, which measure for traces of explosives by analyzing a swab taken from a flier’s luggage or hand. Such machines also are used to check for narcotics. Manufacturers say the test takes about 30 seconds and that the machines cost between $25,000 and $50,000.

The DHS required U.S. airports and airlines to use the scanners in 2010. The European Union mandated them in 2014, but allowed the industry more than a year to comply. Some Asian nations also are widely using the technology, said Norbert Kloepper, chief of the explosive-trace detection unit of Bruker Corp. , the smallest of the four global manufacturers of the machines.

Mr. Kloepper estimated 3,000 to 5,000 new machines will be needed to meet the DHS rules. His company sells up to 400 a year. He said more machines would need to be produced and operators would need to be trained to meet the tight deadline.

Stephen Esposito, a vice president at U.K.-based market leader Smiths Detection, anticipated a surge in orders because of the new requirement. He said the company, part of Smiths Group PLC, has 10,000 scanners deployed world-wide today and would be able to meet demand from the new mandate.

1 comment:

  1. This move is 30 years too late. Since about 1990 there has been a device commercially available that is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry and in all DNA facilities; which will remove all traces of compounds on the packaging which would give off any detectable vapor.

    What the government should be doing is keeping track of who is ordering this specialized equipment without a logical need for it.