Limitations in bomb detection technology and the cumbersome nature of baggage matching in the USA is expected to prompt greater use of computer-assisted passenger screening (CAPS).

The passenger profiling programme, initiated by Northwest Airlines in 1994, is designed to allow airport security to focus on the passengers most likely to pose a threat. The automated screening system identifies a normally small percentage of passengers for additional scrutiny.

CAPS uses data from airline reservation systems to select baggage for inspection and nominates some passengers at random for the additional security measures. The profiling factors are classified, but the US Federal Aviation Administration insists that race, religion and national origin are not among them. It is believed that factors such as frequency of travel to certain destinations and cash ticket purchases will be identified by CAPS.

For security reasons, the FAA will not make public the number of passengers selected for bag matching. The seven major US carriers have voluntarily adopted CAPS, but the FAA expects to make its use compulsory.

Source: Flight International