Airport Security Techology [Then vs. Now]

Updated: May 17, 2019

Without a shadow of a doubt, 9/11 brought forth the security-risks that the aviation industry faces. Most travelers cringe at the idea of meeting with TSA, but the tight security is necessary. In 2017, The TSA confiscated 3,957 firearms in carry-on luggage. With a 5.5% increase of airport traveler in 2018, the TSA confiscated 4,239 firearms in carry-on luggage. Of those, 3,656 firearms were loaded. As you may suspect, increased airport security is a need that must be fulfilled if we hope to travel safely.

Security Guard

The Evolution of Airport Security

Drastic changes to airport security have taken place since 9/11. Just months after 9/11, The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, was created. The additional security measures that were implemented do not only affect the U.S., but also affect aviation on a world-wide level.

Some of the most notable changes that were made after 9/11:

1. ID: Passengers must present a valid photo ID to board.

2. Shoes: Passengers must remove their shoes at checkpoints.

3. Baggage: All baggage is screened – carry-on or checked.

4. Liquids: Liquids are limited to 3.4 ounces in size.

5. Special items: Passengers must remove laptops and toiletries at checkpoints.

6. Outerwear: Passengers must remove jackets or other outerwear during checkpoints.

7. Pat-downs: TSA has received much criticism for their increased-level pat-downs of passengers.

8. Passengers only: Only ticketed-passengers are allowed at gates.

9. Cockpits: Cockpit doors are now reinforced and stay locked during flights.

In 2017, we saw the most changes made to airport security, again, since those made after 9/11. Though security changes are necessary to combat the reality of ever-advancing global-threats, frustrations still run high. The aviation industry is faced with the feat of increasing airport security, while easing the annoyances caused by such measures. Travelers face outdated, time-consuming systems.

Technology for Airport Security

Technology advancements are being implemented in airports to aid in decreasing the inconvenience created by tight security measures. The global airport security market is expected to grow from $8.2 billion in 2014, to $16 billion in 2024. This drastic increase demonstrates the need for ease and convenience.

Here are a few of the rumored technologies to be introduced in 2019:

1. CT Scanners and/ or Walkways: Computerized Tomography is typically reserved for medical need. However, a CT scan allows for the viewing of luggage, liquids and dangerous items. Currently, CT scanners are implemented to scan luggage, only. This is due to their high-cost, loud noise-level and the massive amount of space that is required for setup. The main argument for investing billions of dollars into CT walkways is safety; TSA agents can rapidly inspect passengers for dangerous items, without holding up the line – passengers could literally stroll through security in a matter of seconds.

2. Biometrics: Biometrics, also known as facial recognition, has been growing in popularity in recent years. Facial recognition serves as another security measure that can be conducted within a matter of seconds. Up until recently, facial scanning was reserved for check-ins and exit checks. With new technology boasting 100% accuracy in facial recognition, biometrics is ready to be implemented for baggage drops and onboarding. Recently, NZ conducted a pilot program using facial recognition. The pilot boasted incredible success and the NZ government has vowed to implement facial recognition for automated onboarding in 90% of its flights by 2020.

3. Behavioral Profiling: Despite what Law & Order has taught us, behavioral or criminal profiling is highly-controversial. Even the most successful psychologists are apprehensive about generating a profile. This is because unreliability and lack of accuracy. Nonetheless, profiling robots have already been created. Profiling robots interact with passengers, analyzing their posture, body language, voice tone and eye contact for suspicious behavior.


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