US Demands More Security on Flights 06/29 06:13
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Homeland Security Department is demanding that
airlines around the world step up security measures for international flights
bound for the United States or face the possibility of a total electronics ban
Compliance with the new rules could lead to the lifting of a ban on laptops
and other large electronics already in place for airlines flying to the United
States from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa. It could also stave off
a much-discussed expansion of the ban to flights from Europe.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the rollout of the new
The changes will be phased in over time and include enhanced passenger
vetting, explosives detection and efforts to root out insider threats to
"Security is my No. 1 concern," Kelly said during a speech at the Center for
a New American Security. "Our enemies are adaptive and we have to adapt as
Kelly said the changes will be "seen and unseen" and will be phased in over
the coming weeks and months.
He said airlines that don't comply or are slow to enforce the new standards
could be forced to bar large electronics in both carry-on and checked luggage.
They could also lose permission to fly into the U.S. He said he's confident
that airlines will cooperate.
The current ban, with affects only foreign carriers flying to the U.S. from
10 cities, allows passengers to travel with larger electronics packed in
The new rules will apply to roughly 180 foreign and U.S.-based airlines,
flying from 280 cities in 105 countries, according to Homeland Security. About
2,000 international flights land in the United States daily.
Michael W. McCormick, executive director and COO of the Global Business
Travel Association, said Wednesday that airports will have to deploy enhanced
explosive trace detention technology within 21 days and within six months add
additional screening, detection dogs and other enhanced security measures.
He said his organization supports the new security measures because they
will reduce the security risks but still allow passengers to use laptops and
other electronics on international flights.
"It's the best option we have right now," McCormick said.
The original laptop and electronics ban has been in place since March amid
concerns about an undisclosed threat described only as sophisticated and
ongoing. That ban applied to nonstop flights to the United States from Amman,
Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia;
Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab
Emirates. The roughly 50 affected flights are on foreign airlines.
The government had considered expanding the laptop ban to include some
European airports, though in recent public comments Kelly had suggested the
government was looking at alternatives.
The changes comes after the Transportation Security Administration said
this month that it is testing computed-tomography, or CT, scanning at one
checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The technology is already used for screening checked luggage, but the cost
and larger size of the CT scanners has held back their use for carry-on bags.
TSA had expected to begin testing CT scanners for carry-on luggage by the end
CT scanners create a 3-D image that can be rotated to give screeners a
better look. Suspicious bags can be pulled aside and opened by screeners.
American Airlines, which is participating in the test, said the technology
could let passengers leave laptops, liquids and aerosols in their carry-on
bags, speeding up the trip through the airport.
The test comes as U.S. officials scramble to deal with potential new
threats, including reports that terrorists are developing bombs that can be
disguised as laptop batteries.
The ban on laptops in the cabin is based on the belief that a bomb in the
cargo hold would need to be bigger than one in the cabin, and capable of remote
detonation. Checked luggage already goes through computed-tomography screening
while carry-on bags don't.
AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and Josh Funk in Omaha,
Nebraska, contributed to this report.
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