Boeing's newly appointed vice-president and general manager of homeland security insists the company can meet the USA's controversial 31 December deadline for screening all checked airline baggage for explosives.

"We're really focused on that end-date," says Rick Stephens. "There's no question that this is a challenge, but we are very much committed to make this happen."

Boeing was awarded a $508 million contract last month by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to install explosive detection system (EDS) machines and explosive trace detection (ETD) devices in 438 US airports to comply with the US Congress mandate to screen 100% of checked baggage for explosives by year's end.


Boeing is also tasked with training up to 30,000 US federal employees to operate the equipment. Boeing is maintaining it can meet the deadline despite serious objections from the US aviation industry.

A large contingent of executives from major US airports and airlines have warned that meeting the deadline is logistically impossible and say that attempting to do so will lead to high levels of congestion in airports and grind passenger throughput to a slow crawl.

Stephens admits he has "not spoken with the most vocal critics" of the TSA's plan to meet the deadline. US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has repeatedly said the deadline is not negotiable and will be met.


Stephens explains that airlines and airports "want to have their voices heard" on security issues, but have previously been left out of the debate.

But with Boeing now on board, he says the aviation industry has "got somebody to talk to".

Former TSA head John Magaw was forced to resign last week, largely for imposing security initiatives on airports and airlines without considering industry opinion or using aviation executives' expertise, according to US Government officials.

Source: Flight Daily News