IATA is encouraging security officials to keep increased pat-downs in security checks temporary, and has alerted US government officials that a complete overhaul of security management is necessary.

In the first unified industry response to the 25 December attempt by a Nigerian national to destroy a Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 with explosives, IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani told the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the air transport system "cannot support 100% pat-down searches over the long term".

Bisignani says the failed attempt in part emphasised the need for effective cooperation and information sharing among intelligence agencies.

During a 29 December update on the government's examination of the thwarted attempt, US President Barack Obama acknowledged wide reports that the suspect's father warned US officials about his son's extremist views.

"It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list," says Obama. "This preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns."

Bisignani stresses to DHS that "instead of looking for bad things-nail clippers and rogue bottles of shampoo-security systems need to focus on finding bad people. Adding new hardware to an old system will not deliver the results we need".

The head of IATA says it is time for governments to invest in processes to develop check points that combine the best screening technology and intelligence gathering.

"ICAO and governments must work together to make such a process a reality with global harmonisation and data-sharing," says Bisignani.

President Obama, meanwhile, says he expects to receive preliminary findings from a comprehensive review he ordered of US security oversight on 31 December.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news