Kurt Bodewig Bundesminister a.D.

Civil Aviation Security in the aftermath of September 11th


Ladies and Gentlemen, we were all shaken by the news about the horrible terrorist attacks that took place on 11 September last year. Nearly all states in this world have drawn their conclusions in terms of foreign and security policy.

Naturally, as a consequence of the attacks on New York and Washington, questions were raised as to how security in civil aviation can be further increased. This is another subject that is being discussed worldwide.

In this regard, we have already achieved results: From 2003, an international airport audit programme and a follow-up programme for poor countries will be initiated. At the conference of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) held in Montreal in February 2002, the German Government joined the United States, the EU and many others in successfully supporting these programmes.

During the conference, Germany announced that it would make a six-figure sum (in US Dollars) available in order to support the audit programme financially. I believe that one thing is of particular importance in this context: we have to provide assistance to those states where aviation security shortcomings have been identified but who lack the funds required to establish an efficient aviation security system.

Ladies and Gentlemen, security risks in civil aviation can constitute a terrible threat. Let us be determined to face this threat - and let us become active above all at the international level. This is the only policy with which we will be able to re-establish the confidence of the passengers in the security of air traffic. But the main aim must be to prevent potential assassins from succeeding once again in achieving control of an aircraft.

We, therefore, need a staggered security system which means that if one security measure fails this is compensated for by another one. With this objective, the German Government has taken additional measures for all flights and thus has further tightened the security standards in air traffic which were very high anyway.

At national level in Germany, an intensive exchange of opinions was started immediately after 11 September with the aim of intensifying and improving the measures which already exist. This includes an examination of all technical possibilities to increase security on board the aircraft. After the attacks, the German Government has adopted two so-called "sets of anti-terror measures" which contain legal amendments for a more effective fight against terrorism.

At the core of these sets of provisions in the field of aviation security is, inter alia, the issue of reliability checks of employees. We have laid down all the details of background screening and reliability checks which are prescribed for all employees working in the security area of an airport.

In addition, more stringent criteria for these checks have been determined. One of these criteria is that they have to be repeated at 12-monthly intervals. Here the foundations were laid, in a very short time, for being able to ensure in advance that only persons who were checked and found to be reliable can become employed in the security restricted areas of an airport. A further component of the "sets of anti-terror measures" are the so-called sky marshals. They can increase security and have a deterrent effect on potential assassins. A comprehensive concept for the deployment and training of sky marshals has been developed and their practical deployment has begun. In this connection it was particularly important to us, amongst other things because of the potential use of weapons on board aircraft, to ensure that only members of the police force and no private security services are deployed.

Another issue are the doors currently used in the cockpit. They are obviously not suited for preventing a violent intrusion into the cockpit. For this reason, Deutsche Lufthansa have already retrofitted a large part of their aircraft and mounted locking mechanisms. In this context we also welcome the decision taken by the ICAO Council. This decision prescribes that, by November 2003, all aircraft have to be equipped with reinforced doors that can be locked.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the special nature of the attacks in the United States on 11 September made it necessary to put all the existing measures to the test and envisage new ones. Therefore, all the existing security concepts had to be completely reviewed and sometimes revised.

The combination of all measures will certainly help to counter the risk of terrorist attacks. But I still think that even greater endeavours and ideas will be necessary in order to combat the new threats against the security of civil aviation in a really effective manner. This means that we will have to go beyond the traditional methods.

We have to work together to develop a new, worldwide security culture which should contain the proven elements of the present security measures and combine them with new methods. Here I am thinking especially of the use of new technologies like biometrics, machine-readable travel documents and devices for the automatic detection of explosives.

It is obvious that the development and use of such technologies are expensive. I do not find it hard to imagine that bottlenecks could arise quite quickly. For this reason, I believe that international cooperation would be particularly efficient in this field.

I am thus very pleased that Siemens and Boeing are now cooperating in the field of detecting explosives. Taken together, these two corporations have over 300 years of experience in airport and aviation projects. The plans are for the installation of appropriate equipment at 438 airports worldwide and the training of over 20,000 personnel. That is exactly the kind of cooperation that we need right now.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is of course undisputed that all persons who are here today and at least 99 percent of the travelling public in general are no risk to the security of flights. The important thing, therefore, is to filter out the people for whom it cannot be excluded right from the start that they could mount an assault on an aircraft.

In this way we could not only make air traffic more secure, but at the same time could make it more user-friendly. This could be done, for instance, by shortening the waiting lines at the check-in counters, at passport control and at secu-rity control points.

This, however, requires, as was already mentioned, new technologies, like bio-identification which means the recognition of the iris, the face, finger prints, voices, signatures and so on.

All the biometric procedures have advantages and disadvantages, and only practical experience will show what are the most suitable procedures. In this connection I want to expressly welcome the "Trusted Passenger Aviation Security Programme". As you know, it is part of the "Aviation and Transportation Security Act" which was signed by President Bush in November of last year.

One of the goals of this programme is to speed up the security checks of passengers who participate in the programme. This requires the passengers to be prepared to undergo in advance comprehensive checks as regards their back-grounds and trustworthiness. This enables the personnel carrying out the checks to concentrate on the other passengers who require more attention.

In my opinion, this is the right way to, on the one hand, counter the new terrorist threat and, on the other, manage the increase in passenger volumes forecast for the next few years.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the international community has quickly reacted to the events of 11 September. And there has been a close cooperation between the individual states. This is something that continues to be important in the future. International approaches must be applied to counter international threats. Otherwise, the effects of purely national measures will be very limited.

I believe that this is the only way in which we can re-establish the confidence of the passengers and the economy in the security of air traffic. Thank you very much for your attention.