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Explosive Detection Systems: Oral Statement on Behalf of the Airport Operators Council International and the American Association of Airport Executives

NCJ Number
Terrorism Volume: 13 Issue: 4-5 Dated: (July-October 1990) Pages: 359-367
W A Jackson
Date Published
9 pages
The Airport Operators Council International and the American Association of Airport Executives support the implementation of an airport security pilot program that would examine the effects of control hardware access, parallel technologies, procedures, and human factors when applied in real life situations. These two organizations are also concerned about the impending implementation of an Explosives Detection System (EDS) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that they believe is flawed.
The proposed rule would constrain domestic and international air travel out of proportion to the risk. The current proposal would use installation of equipment which is still in the developmental stage, namely the thermal neutron analysis (TNA) machine. The EDS equipment is slow and too large for many airports to accommodate; it has a relatively high rate of false alarms and is not able to handle oversized bags. These two organizations point out the enormous costs of operating the proposed EDS and note the lack of Federal funding for the program. Finally, many foreign governments appear reluctant to approve the use of TNA in their airports. The associations recommend that the FAA integrate the TNA equipment into a rational and comprehensive risk reduction program. Stronger U.S. legislative and world efforts to tag explosives could also help reduce the threat of terrorist incidents.