Aviation security must become more pragmatic and focused on desired results and outcomes rather than processes, IATA’s chief said Tuesday.

Speaking at the 22nd AVSEC World conference in New York, IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler said balancing risk and regulation was a challenge, but one that must be addressed.

“We have a big responsibility—keeping 3.1 billion air travelers, nearly 50 million tonnes of freight and the world’s economies securely connected by air. The foundation for achieving these is working together to strike the right balance on risk and regulation.

“We cannot accept 100% risk. And any regulation that completely eliminated risk would shut the industry down—an equally unacceptable solution. A pragmatic approach is needed,” Tyler said.

“We must put desired results at the center of our efforts. We must recognize that 99.9999%—if not more—of passengers and freight pose no threat to aviation. So we need to make better use of the information that is available to assess the risk of the people, objects or situations that can pose threats,” Tyler said.

As part of the Checkpoint of the Future (COF) initiative, the concept of differentiation based on data, will ensure resources are deployed where they will have the biggest impact on reducing risk.

“We are not advocating for profiling based on religion or ethnicity. And we are not proposing infringements on privacy. But we can use existing information more effectively,” Tyler said.

The COF program is being implemented after trials of some components were completed at Amsterdam, Geneva and London Heathrow airports. A program of 10 new trials is planned for this year in preparation for the first end-to-end version being implemented in 2014. A more advanced version of the COF will appear in 2017, with full COF arriving around 2020, Tyler said. This will allow passengers to walk through the screening lane without having to remove layers of clothing or separate laptops and liquids from carry-on luggage.

Tyler said, however, that he was concerned about the trend by some governments to levy charges on airlines to process data that they request. Canada, for example, requires airlines to invest in their systems to link to the government IT infrastructure. It then charges airlines about C$25,000 ($24,000) for the initial connection and C$5,000 annually to maintain it. “My message to governments is clear. If you can’t afford to process the information you shouldn’t be asking for it,” Tyler said.

Photo: IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler