On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I feel that it is important to consider how our industry has been affected from that tragic day in 2001.
Under the banner of ideology, innocent citizens were attacked and killed. Loss of life on September 11 affected citizens and families from around the globe. In the United States of America, the population was terrorized by an attack on its soil. As time has moved forward, we know the stories of how terror has affected so many countries, with so many victims of all walks of life.
Our industry was called upon to bring immediate change to airport infrastructure. In the USA, our security standards were lacking. With a new sense of urgency and government investment, this industry responded to implement baggage security systems throughout the entire country. The need to secure air travel and restore passenger confidence at the nationwide scale was unprecedented. Implementation of technology, and adaptation to work in airport operational environments was completely new in the USA. We learned from the experiences of those in Europe who had implemented such systems in the past. But a key difference was the scale at which baggage security systems needed to be implemented. Our industry responded. Key objectives identified by US Congress were met.
Our new industry partner, the Transportation Security Administration, was finding its way as well. Stood up in a crisis, TSA has been integral in our industry since 2001. We have differed in opinions at times yet learned how to meet the mission – together. This industry, in conjunction with airline partners and the TSA, have now established standards by which we build baggage security systems. Over the past two decades, these requirements have become more refined, and matured. Together we produce and implement baggage security systems that are robust and meet the mission of providing secure airport systems for checked passenger baggage.
More recently, this industry has helped to increase security and reliability of the passenger checkpoint. Implementation of advanced screening technologies, automated conveyance systems, and optimized image viewing systems has increased security effectiveness by increasing automation, allowing officers to focus on security at the individual passenger level.
Having spent billions of dollars on aviation and airport security over the past twenty years, it is appropriate to ask – is the traveling public safer now than before? Absolutely yes. Can we relax our posture on aviation security? No.
Recent global events reinforce that ideological opponents are regaining confidence to continue acts of terror. We must maintain and increase the security posture built up by this industry over the past two decades. Our risk is that the further we get away from 9/11/2001, our resolve to keep aviation systems secure may diminish. As the generation who experienced these attacks and answered the call to secure our aviation system begins to retire and leave the active workforce, we must instill in our successors the reminder – NEVER FORGET!