Global Airport News

Global Airport News

The Department of Homeland Security hassaid it is trying to address concerns of pilots about stepped-up screening at US airports and worries that the travel industries fliers will limit trips because of tougher checks.

Security officials have defended the measures after foiled plots by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which tried to hide bombs in clothing and parcels that made it aboard a passenger airliner and two cargo planes.

After fierce complaints by pilots about new full-body scanners and more thorough patdowns that began recently, the Transportation Security Administration has started testing other methods for them, a DHS official has said.

TSA is examining "alternative security protocols for airline pilots that would expedite screening for this low-risk population while maintaining high security standards," the DHS official said.

The new tests come after talks earlier this week between TSA Administrator John Pistole and the head of the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest US pilot union, about how to address the concerns among cockpit crews.

Pilots have also expressed worries about health risks from the body scanners because they go through them more often than travellers. DHS officials have said they are safe and people are exposed to more radiation naturally than from one scan.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Pistole met executives from the travel industry, including hotels and online sites, on Friday to talk about concerns the added security is crimping travel and hurting their businesses.

"The meeting with Secretary Napolitano was informative but not entirely reassuring," said Geoff Freeman, an executive vice president with the US Travel Association. "We understand the challenge DHS confronts but the question is where we draw the line."

Pistole mentioned several forthcoming reforms for so-called trusted travellers, Freeman said.

"Our country desperately needs a long-term vision for aviation security screening rather than an endless reaction to yesterday's threat," he said.

After the meeting, DHS said Napolitano told the executives she was committed to improving security, working with the industry and deploying more security personnel and new technology to address potential risks.

The meeting was "to underscore the department's continued commitment to partnering with the nation's travel and tourism industry to facilitate the flow of trade and travel while maintaining high security standards to protect the American people," DHS said in a statement.