Canada must embrace a more flexible and innovative approach to aviation security so that it can react to ever-changing terror threats in "real time", the president and chief executive of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) says.

Speaking before the Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Jacques Duchesneau said the country needs "to move beyond our current system".

"In a race with terrorists, the rule book will always lose. And so we should think about new ways that promote our flexibility, that help us to anticipate the unexpected, and that allow us to adapt quickly, while maintaining continuous protection," he says.

Established in 2002 in response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, CATSA handles security screening services at 89 Canadian airports. The agency operates the security system under Transport Canada regulations.

"Unfortunately, we are operating within a system of regulations that amounts to a Maginot Line," says Duchesneau.

"To the French, the Line was a robust, muscular defense against any threat. But when the Germans came over the border, their response to the Maginot Line was simply to drive around it. Paris fell because its security system failed to adapt to the threat."

To ensure that Canada's air security system does not turn into "the Maginot Line of the 21st century", he says, CATSA must have financial flexibility so that it is able to "reallocate our spending urgently" and "re-cast our budget rapidly" to meet new terror threats.

"We cannot do any of that under the rules we follow now," he adds.

Beyond flexibility, CATSA needs to "concentrate its resources where we are most likely to find the threat", says Duchesneau, noting that one solution would be to implement the long-discussed registered traveller programme.

"This approach would allow us to clear travellers who we know are not a threat, and to concentrate on those travellers about whom we need to know more," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News