There aren’t many people with a better understanding of aviation security regulations than David Trembaczowski-Ryder. He joined ACI Europe in February 2010 as senior policy manager, responsible for aviation security issues. In August 2013, he was promoted to head of aviation security. David is a retired UK Royal Air Force wing commander, and former fast jet navigator/weapon system operator.
DeteCT: Tell us about ACI and its priorities for airport security in the next year? What would you like to see accomplished in this area?
Ryder: ACI represents over 500 airports in 45 countries. We represent airports in EU member states and in the many countries that follow EU regulations. Our goal is to work effectively with the EU and country regulators to develop policies that improve security and reflect the practical realities airports and passengers face.
A top ACI priority is our Advanced Cabin Baggage Systems Joint Operational Working Group, which includes airports, technology providers, and regulators. The group is focused on key issues facing checkpoint screening: how do we bring technology to market that is truly “future proof”? How can we move beyond responding to the last known threat? How can we allow for fewer passenger divestment of liquids and electronics and satisfy the security requirements?
DeteCT: These are questions that have challenged the industry for a while. Is aviation checkpoint technology ready to meet these requirements?
Ryder: This is an exciting time. New technology, such as checkpoint CT and biometrics, is very promising. There is a strong business case for new technology because, while airport traffic is forecast to double by 2035, airports can’t simply build new terminals to accommodate this growth—they need to get passengers through security more efficiently. Of course, technology manufacturers such as Analogic have to prove that their solutions meet security requirements and will work in real-world airport environments. This will take time, but I am optimistic that we will get there.
DeteCT: In the United States, the TSA purchases security technology. In many EU countries, airports bear the costs of security. How do security costs impact EU airports?
Ryder: In the EU, in most countries other than Germany, airports buy security equipment and pay for the screening staff. In terms of economic impact on airports, this works out to approximately 20% of airport operating costs. And that does not include the capital expense of screening equipment.
DeteCT: No wonder airports are interested in better technology! What about passenger satisfaction? My understanding is European airports have incentives to keep passenger throughput at reasonable levels.
Ryder: That is correct. In addition to the obvious benefits of happier customers, many EU airports have service level agreements with airlines. These agreements stipulate that a certain percentage of passengers must be through the security checkpoint within a certain amount of time, for example 95% of passengers within 7 minutes.
DeteCT: Interesting! I wonder if we will see that type of approach in the U.S., with airports and the TSA. My last question has to do with politics. There has been a lot of political change in the world recently, with new leaders in Europe and North America. What would you advise them to do to improve aviation security?
Ryder: Don’t follow knee jerk reactions and don’t get caught just responding to the last known threat. Come up with a process for systematically identifying and evaluating potential threats and a strategy to address them that includes working with airports, airlines, and technology manufacturers.