Emerging Issues in Security

DHS Announces New Enhanced Aviation Security Measures

New rules from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security require airlines that fly to the United States to step up screening of passengers and in certain cases and to impose more stringent security checks. Explosive detection devices had to be in place within weeks of the June 28th announcement.

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New directives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) require enhanced security measures be implemented to help secure all commercial flights departing from 280 airports that serve as last points of departure to the United States. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly announced these enhanced security screening measures for aviation security in a prepared statement last week.

The directives said the airports must have the explosive detection devices in place in 21 days and conduct the tougher security checks by the fall. The airlines that do not comply with the new rules could face significant penalties.

“We have a lot of ground to cover,” said Kelly. “Our nation is being targeted daily by terrorists, criminals, hackers, nation states, and more.”

Focusing on aviation security threats, he stated, “Since 9/11, the United States has seen a series of attempted attacks on commercial aviation. A shoe bomber. Liquid explosives. An underwear bomber and a plot to detonate explosive cargo. Most of these were disrupted just in time, but our enemies have not always failed.”

Terrorists want to bring down aircraft to instill fear, disrupt our economies, and undermine our way of life, according to Kelly. “And it works—which is why they still see aviation as a crown jewel target,” he said.

The threat is not diminishing. In fact, Kelly is concerned that there is renewed interest on the part of terrorist groups to go after the aviation sector—from bombing aircraft to attacking airports on the ground.

“We are not standing on the sidelines while fanatics hatch new plots,” said Kelly. “The U.S. government is focused on deterring, detecting, and disrupting these threats. That is why in March I made the decision to ban electronic devices larger than a cell phone from the passenger cabins of U.S.-bound commercial flights from ten airports in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Kelly said that he made the call based on evaluated intelligence received about terrorist plotting. “Make no mistake, our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders, and hijacking aircraft,” he commented.

Enhanced Security Measures and Global Aviation Security Requirements

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has determined it is time to raise the global baseline of aviation security. The enhanced security measures include but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing overall passenger screening
  • Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices
  • Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas
  • Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations

Over the next several weeks and months, the DHS will work with aviation stakeholders to ensure these enhanced security measures are fully implemented. Those airports that fail to adopt these requirements within certain time frames run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.