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IATA emphasizes safety, security as global fear heighten

International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has decried the rapidly growing trend of terrorism globally is tinkering models to continuously assure safety and security of passengers and crew as they fly the global skies.

Director General of IATA, Mr. Tony Tyler also said the body is looking at aircraft tracking as top of the aviation industry’s agenda given the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.

Giving his remarks at the Global Media Day in Geneva Switzerland held December 10, 2015, Tyler said that safety of airline passenger has always been a top priority and that if an aircraft as massive as the Boeing 777 could disappear, then there is need to work on and improve tracking of aircraft in the sky.

Tyler said,” I would like to comment on one issue which has been at the top of the industry’s agenda—aircraft tracking. The loss of MH370 was a shock. Although one piece of the aircraft was found in Reunion Island, the wreckage has not yet been located. And we still don’t know the cause of its disappearance. But early on, the industry recognized that, if a large passenger plane like a Boeing 777 could disappear, we needed to improve the way that aircraft are tracked.”

DG IATA, Mr. Tony Tyler
DG IATA, Mr. Tony Tyler

He explained that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) held a high level safety conference in February 2015 where IATA worked with the body on the Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII) a process aimed at test running tracking standard to enable it come on-stream in 2018.

“As an outcome of ICAO’s High Level Safety Conference in February 2015, IATA worked with ICAO on the Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII). Essentially, the purpose of the NATII was to ‘test-drive’ the proposed tracking standard and recommended practices to see if they were fit for purpose. “

“The NATII exercises showed us that it was unrealistic to set a 2016 timeframe, and so it was pushed back to 2018. Regardless of this, many airlines are in the process of equipping and others are making improvements or upgrades to existing tracking capabilities.”

On security, Tyler said that the world has become dangerous with the threat of terrorism active and growing and decried that the industry has become a target to heighten terror instead of bringing peace.

He said, ”The threat of terrorism is present and active. A new dimension has been added with the movement of foreign terrorist fighters. And the sad reality is that our industry—despite being an instrument of peace—continues to be a target.”

“That was clear in the tragic downing of the Metrojet flight over the Sinai, which by all accounts was a heinous terrorist act. And the recent attacks in Paris, Bamako, Beirut and San Bernardino are all affronts to a way of life for which the freedom to travel and explore our planet are critical elements. In the face of these acts and threats we must be strong. “

He assured that the industry will continue to evolve ways to prevent heinous acts and provide succour to travellers and crew by screening cargo and passengers properly.

“The terror threat is constantly evolving. As an industry we have been very aware of that in our intense work with governments on counter-measures, especially since 9.11. Travelers and crew should be reassured. We have processes in place to keep them out of harm’s way by screening passengers, securing the cargo chain, providing governments with information to vet passengers, and guiding our flightpaths around conflict zones. Governments are our partners in security. Their intelligence is vital in guiding our efforts.”

“There is no perfect system. But aviation is well practiced in its efforts to stay at least a step ahead of the terrorist threat. And the confidence of governments in the ability of our countermeasures to adapt to evolving threats is clear: effective targeted actions have generally replaced knee-jerk reactions to new developments. It is telling that the European Union recently completed the long-awaited one-stop security agreement with Canada—a step in the right direction for risk-based security.”

Finally Tyler said that Aviation has a value for becoming a force for good stating that the positive impact of aviation pervades modern life. And that IATAs key goal is to get governments and industry stakeholders to understand that ideal better so they can move the industry in leaps and bounds.

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