The 3D printer aviation security headache

The Israeli-developed “profile” security check at Ben Gurion airport – and at check-in areas of Israeli airlines’ flights – was dismissed in recent years by some experts as “obsolete”, compared with technology introduced for that purpose.

But those who hurried to count only on technology got a slap to their faces in recent months – putting it mildly.
3D printers that enable anyone to “print” a gun have caused havoc in agencies that deal with security – including aviation security.

Indeed, sceptics recently watched as reporters from Israel’s Channel 10 managed to smuggle a home-made “printed” gun into the Knesset – the Israeli parliament – and pull it out only meters away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The correspondents printed the gun using instructions downloaded from the Internet, and manufactured it using one of the new 3D printers.

After printing the gun the reporters fired it at an indoor range, using a vice and pulling the trigger with a cord.  These precautions were justified, as the gun barrel exploded – but the bullet did hit the cardboard target.

Knesset security chief Brig Gen Yossi Griff admitted the new technology “presents an entirely novel challenge to all the security systems in Israel and the world”.

He says: “The Knesset, like all government offices and public institutions, is currently investigating the issue in order to provide a professional solution as soon as possible.”

3D printers are available for as little as $2,000. The plastic raw material costs only several hundred dollars more.

The prime minister’s office, speaking for the Israel Security Agency – in charge of protecting the prime minister and the top coordinator of all Israeli security-related actions – criticised the stunt, calling it “an irresponsible act that could have endangered those who carried out the dubious journalistic mission, and could have caused them serious harm”.

So, with all due respect to technology, the “profile” system is still a very crucial tool in the filtering process aimed at allowing only people with no intention to perform a terror act to board a plane.


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