By Jeremy Slater

Heightened concerns over terrorist attacks against airliners, following the alleged London bomb plot of last month, has led the European Commission to launch an open round of consultations into the use of surveillance detection technologies that could improve safety and security.

The green paper, issued on 4 September, lists Brussels' concerns over whether current minimum requirements for airline safety are enough to deal with the increased terrorist threat. Such laws were introduced only three years ago following the 9/11 attacks, but Commission security experts are seeking to find a new acceptable level for security that does not impose too greatly on the freedom of movement of the public, prove too costly for airlines to introduce and implement, or contravene laws governing human rights.

"Recent events in the UK have further underlined that detection devices must be continuously improved in order to reflect the ever changing threat posed by terrorists and criminals and to ensure that people are able to travel safely. Modern detection technologies have therefore an important role to play in the fight against crime and terrorism," says Franco Frattini, justice, freedom and security commissioner.

It is understood that the Commission wants to consult with both public and private bodies over what are considered to be proportionate responses to the heightened threat that do not overly impact on the running of airlines. Brussels wants to find out from this inquiry what is affordable and sustainable. It will also investigate the potential use of the latest science and technology in scanners, such as algorithms that can swiftly analyse the contents of any liquid that is being brought on board an airliner.

As part of the consultation process the Commission plans to hold a two-day conference on the use, analysis and transportation of explosives on 9-10 October in Brussels.

Source: Flight International