David Learmount/LONDON

MASSIVE FUNDING for higher levels of security at US airports has been demanded by US President Bill Clinton, following initial recommendations from Vice-President Al Gore's Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. The US Federal Aviation Administration has to implement the recommendations.

Demanding that Congress give "highest priority" to sanctioning $430 million this session, the Clinton Administration wants the federal funds earmarked for technical equipment and security-staffing improvements at the USA's 450 commercial airports.

The Gore Commission was set up in July in response to fears that Trans World Airlines flight 800 might have been brought down by a bomb. Evidence so far has not confirmed the sabotage theory, but the White House is determined to implement many of the Commission's early recommendations, which include:

"full passenger bag-match" (known in Europe as baggage reconciliation) to be carried out for domestic flights "at selected airports" in the USA. The report also recommends the eventual implementation of the scheme at every airport in the country. Bag-match, already pursued throughout Europe, entails ensuring that passengers who check luggage in actually board the aircraft;

fingerprinting of airport employees and checks for criminal records;

$91 million to be spent on buying and installing 54 InVision Technologies CTX-5000SP FAA-certificated explosive-detection devices for luggage screening, to be backed up by 79 trace detectors for secondary screening of items which are identified by the CTX-5000. More will be purchased later;

$38 million for 410 trace-detector units for screening carry-on baggage and electronic equipment;

$9 million for more than 100 sniffer-dog teams;

$38 million to boost the FAA's security-research effort, which is examining human factors, aircraft explosion-proofing, technology and airport security;

$32 million to the US Customs, to increase inspector numbers and equipment for screening outbound passengers and cargo;

better passenger-manifest procedures.

Source: Flight International