Each day, airports work to ensure that air travel is safe and secure. In fact, it is the industry’s number one priority. Partnering with airlines, tenants, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and federal, state and local law enforcement, airports are working aggressively to enhance security.
Since the tragic events of 9/11, aviation security has been fairly prominent in the headlines, and therefore, has also drawn the attention of Congress. While TSA recently announced the start of its seven airport pilot project to test employee screening as provided in the FY08 Omnibus, Congress has begun to turn its attention to how technology may provide possible security solutions.
Last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced the “Biometric Enhancement and Airport Vulnerability Reduction Act of 2008,” which would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study on how airports can transition to biometric control systems for airport workers who have unescorted access to secure or sterile areas of the an airport.
Since November of last year, ACI-NA has worked closely with the House Homeland Security Committee as it has sought to introduce legislation regarding biometric technology at airports. While a few airports such as Seattle-Tacoma have already installed interoperable biometric systems, there is much work to be done regarding how biometrics can best be used to improve security at access control points.
ACI-NA and the airport industry as a whole applaud the Chairman’s approach of directing a study before mandating a solution. The unique traits of airports, both collectively and individually, call for a thorough examination of all considerations before a single biometric control solution for airport workers is decided upon. I was also pleased to see language in the bill creating an Aviation and Airport Security Working Group that would include airport representation to advise the DHS Secretary and TSA on this proposal. ACI-NA strongly believes that airports should be involved from the onset in this initiative by recommending best practices and identifying feasibility concerns.
Again, the airport industry takes very seriously its responsibility to the traveling public to provide safe and secure facilities. This includes working to test new and innovative technologies to enhance our security systems.