The US Air Line Pilots Association is calling for a more effective commercial aviation security system based on trusting passengers who fit a low-risk profile, and screening the rest according to information held about them.

ALPA president Capt John Prater says: "We've learned that if there's a will, there's often a way to do harm, yet we still screen everyone essentially the same way and spend most of our security resources looking for objects, not indications of hostile intent."

He explains: "Identifying trustworthy individuals is critical, so that more time and scrutiny can be given to those passengers about whom little is known and to those who may intend to do us harm."

A new ALPA white paper calls for identifying the trustworthiness of each passenger through a combination of publicly available information, human interaction and behaviour-pattern recognition.

"The objects that can be used to cause harm are constantly changing, but the intent to do harm remains constant," says Capt Robb Powers, ALPA's National Security Committee chairman. "A trust-based approach will, most importantly, create an even more secure air transport system, but it will also limit privacy intrusions, leverage existing resources and make screening more efficient."

There have previously been attempts by airlines and frequent-flier groups to set up registered "trusted traveller" schemes, but these have not found favour with the authorities in any country.

Source: Flight International