Examination of Witnesses (Questions 880
WEDNESDAY 17 APRIL 2002
880. I think most of question four has been
answered already but I have a couple of points I want to pick
up on heightened security measures. As a frequent traveller from
a regional airport to London, I was aware of the heightened security
that took place just after 11 September because I was on a flight
on 12 September. You make reference to the note you gave us in
terms of random search of hold baggage on flights to the United
States of America or Canada. In the United States now they appoint
people out of the line randomly as well for hand baggage checks.
Are you confident enough that the measures that you have in place
are robust enough? Should they apply not just to flights to the
United States and Canada but instigated at regional airports because
the threat to the United States of America and Canada is also
from regional airports where potential terrorists might think
security measures are not as tight as Heathrow or other international
airports. There are two other points. One is on the system of
checking passengers against Police and Immigration suspect lists.
There is no system in the United Kingdom at the moment, certainly
if you are travelling on an internal flight, for checking your
identity. People can get on a plane and no one will know. At least
in the United States, even if you travel internally you have to
produce some kind of photo ID or identification. Has any thought
been given to that? Finally, in terms of the locking of cockpit
doors, I know some measures have already been taken by some airlines
in strengthening cockpit doors, but I note this week that the
United States has a deadline toward the end of this year for insisting
on airlines having taken measures. That is also having to apply
to charter airlines travelling into the United States. Clearly
there is a lot of resistance because of the cost of some of that
work being carried out. Where are we at in terms of insisting
that all airlines and not just those travelling on the regular
international loop flights to Canada and the United States but
also charter flights (because the bulk of the population travel
on charter flights) have those measures taken on cockpit doors?
(Mr Devlin) The first question is about additional
searching measures for flights to the United States and Canada.
Obviously, as I said, we are in the risk management business and
we direct our efforts and our security measures where the threat
is perceived to be greatest. It is not practicable to have the
highest level of security for every flight, domestic and international.
We also have to keep the industry running. So we make a judgment
and we judge that there is a particular concern about threats
to the United States and Canada, and therefore there is additional
secondary searching for example for those flights. The other aspect
we were concerned about was that there are some airports, and
this would include regional airports, where arriving and departing
passengers mix because of the configuration of the airport. We
would prefer, and we have been pursuing this for several years
really, a system where departing passengers are segregated from
arriving passengers so there is no danger of the people who have
been screened and security-checked receiving something from an
incoming passenger who might not have been screened to the same
standard. So airport terminals which did not have that segregation
also had additional security measures applied again on this risk
management principle. This is where we felt the risk was, so we
applied the measures there.
881. What additional measures were they?
(Mr Devlin) Additional searching; secondary searching.
882. That is not taking place in Newcastle,
I will tell you now, which has exactly that problem with incoming
and outgoing passengers.
(Mr Devlin) I do not know the specifics.
883. I am telling you, because I travel there
every week, and it is not happening.
(Mr Devlin) A number of airports have been able to
introduce segregation which can be a major issue. If you have
to rebuild a terminal, it is a major issue, but there are other
ways of achieving the same sort of segregation, by putting up
barriers between the two and regulating that, and that has been
done at a number of airports. I do not know the specific situation
at Newcastle but we will look at that. On the checking of passengers
and identification for internal flights, yes, you are right, there
is not a requirement for any particular form of identification
for passengers on internal flights. Obviously, passengers on international
flights have to show a passport but we cannot make a passport
a requirement for internal flights because lots of people do not
have passports. The same would apply to driving licences, not
everyone has a driving licence so we could not make that a requirement
because you would be denying a lot of people the right to fly.
So in the absence of any national identity card scheme there is
no document that we can require. What we focus on is the requirement
on the airline to check that the person who checks in is also
the person who boards the plane.
884. How do you do that?
(Mr Devlin) There are various ways of doing that.
Sometimes the airlines do require documentation.
Mr Jones: I am interested you say that. I know
at Gatwick you can do that because when you check in they take
a photograph of you and they check it later on and check it is
the same person. But let us go back to Newcastle
Chairman: You really resent being chucked
off as a director, don't you!
Rachel Squire: I have decided I am never
using Newcastle again!
885. I think it is important because this type
of security has to be at all levels of airports, not just major
ones but also regional ones. I can go to the British Airways desk
and get a ticket from check-in, give it to you and you could go
through. There are no checks at all in terms of when you go through
security to check who you are. The only security check is whether
you have a boarding pass for a valid flight. So I could pass it
to you and you could travel in my name and no one would be any
(Mr Devlin) There should be a check
886. Well, there is not.
(Mr Devlin) It is done in different ways by different
airlines. It is the responsibility of the airline to check that
the people who check in are the people who board.
887. How would you do that though?
(Mr Devlin) Some airlines require documentation. As
you have said, at Gatwick and Bristol they use CCTV. Again, I
would come back to the point that everyone is screened, everyone
who is entering a restricted zone has been searched and security
screened. The third point was about cockpit doors. The situation
there is that the ICAO has made it a requirement, or is making
it a requirement from November 2003, that all aircraft will be
fitted with modified cockpit doors. This is what we refer to as
Phase 2 cockpit doors. It is a fundamental modification; a refitting.
It involves a lot of work in refitting aircraft with lockable
cockpit doors. With immediate effect from 11 September the Civil
Aviation Authority required the locking of cockpit doors on civil
aircraft in the UK and it also made it possible for civil aviation
aircraft to have modifications to their cockpit doors which reinforced
them against attack, so they are locked and reinforced in most
cases. We will be certainly complying with that ICAO requirement
for the introduction of fully modified cockpit doors and we will
have to put to ministers a decision on when that is introduced
and exactly what the threshold is. So that is on-going work. There
is obviously technical work going on on what the modifications
to the cockpit doors will be because there are major safety issues
about locking and securing cockpit doors to do with pressurisation
and communications between the cockpit and the crew. These issues
have all got to be worked out and a technical solution introduced.
It is not something which can just be achieved with the wave of
888. Two very brief questions. You have introduced
new measures since 11 September. Is the threat from international
terrorism in your judgment currently higher than the historic
threat from Irish terrorism? As briefly as you can please.
(Mr Devlin) It depends what you are speaking about.
I do not think I would like to go into detail because it is not
my province to go into details about the threat. Nevertheless,
I think I can answer your question by saying that we receive threat
information from the security service and that gives us the threat
from international terrorism in the UK and it gives us the threat
to UK interests overseas, so to UK airlines operating overseas.
The threat varies; it is different in different countries. So
I cannot just say in a blanket answer, yes, the threat from international
terrorism is higher, because it depends which threat you are talking
about; there are a whole range of threats. The threat from Irish
terrorism is there and is at the level it is at, and it is not
something that has changed very much.
889. It would be fair to say as well, would
it not, that traditionally Irish terrorists have not concentrated
on airports or the airport industry. I know there are exceptions
to that but it has not been their favoured style of attack, has
(Mr Devlin) There have been attacks at Belfast Airport
and at Heathrow but, generally speaking, that is correct, whereas
international terrorists have very much got a track record of
890. Could you briefly describe the system of
receiving intelligence reports from the security service?
(Mr Devlin) The reports we receive from the security
service are generally tied in with the national security committees.
It is not necessarily a question I can answer quickly. We have
national security committees for aviation, for maritime, for railways
and for the Channel Tunnel. They meet twice a year. At each of
those meetings we review the threat and we receive in advance
of each meeting from the security service a statement of the threat
to that mode of transport and the threat in other countries. If
there are any changes in the threat outside of that, the security
service will notify us, so we have a general statement of the
891. And then flash messages as they come up?
(Mr Devlin)and then adjustments as necessary.
892. Thank you. You have made these changes
and you have stated that these changes are an overall change to
the baseline of security at airports. Clearly after 11 September
there was a much higher state of security which in many ways made
airports impossible to administer. Therefore, for good and understandable
reasons, that was reduced. How do you balance the commercial needs
of the industry against the security needs?
(Mr Devlin) The measures that were introduced immediately
on 11 September were not only impossible for the airlines to meet,
in some ways they were internally inconsistent and impractical
because they were not designed to be introduced across board,
they were a reaction in a very short space of time to get something
in place very quickly. Over the course of the following day I
had a meeting with the aviation industry. I had about 20 representatives
of the aviation industryairlines, airports and othersto
tell us where the choke points were, what was not working, what
was not implementable. We took account of that in drafting the
direction that we put out on 18 September. All airlines and airports
would say that security and safety are prime amongst their objectives
and obviously it is our prime objective. We do not compromise
security but we have to be realistic and we have to recognise
that it is an industry that has to be kept operating. We take
account of their views but sometimes they do not agree with us.
I often have meetings with chief executives of airlines or airports
where they are coming to me complaining about the measures that
we are putting in place. If we are getting that from one side
and people from the other side saying they are not stringent enough,
maybe we are getting the balance roughly right.
893. We have probably discussed the screening
and training of baggage handling staff sufficiently so I will
not rehearse that or how you deal with learning the lessons of
things like the Heathrow incident because we have also covered
that. We have stressed significantly the physical security measures
you have taken in terms of screening and so on, but I am also
concerned about IT security. Clearly, if the IT at airports is
not secure then the ability for people to obtain passes to breach
security is obviously significant. How are you monitoring IT?
Government does not have a superb record on IT. How are you monitoring
the effectiveness of that and particularly the security, for all
of those reasons?
(Mr Devlin) I would have to say that IT security at
airports is not something that we regulate. We have left it largely
to the airports themselves to take their own security measures.
894. Why have you not regulated it?
(Mr Devlin) I do not think it is an issue that has
895. It has been pointed out to us that IT security
in airports in this country is not good enough. I would just put
it to you that you should be looking at it. If people can breach
the security of IT systems in airports then the potential for
them to be able to generate passes and gain access to personnel
seems to be there.
(Mr Elbourne) IT generally is not an area we have
looked at. We are looking at the security of pass issuing systems
following the robberies. That is being tightened up. The management
of the pass system has been tightened up already at Heathrow and
that is being rolled out to other airports. We are looking specifically
at the issue of IT in pass issuing.
896. Do you think there may be other information
in IT systems in airports that would be of value to people who
do not have our best wishes at heart?
(Mr Elbourne) It is entirely possible. It was an issue
that before 11 September was on the agenda. "Cyber terrorism"
is the catchphrase for it. It is one of the issues since 11 September
that has fallen down the list of priorities.
897. So would it be fair to say that you have
become particularly keen on physical security and that if there
is a gap that cyber terrorism has fallen down the gaps?
(Mr Devlin) IT systems at airports have some impact
on security and I think, yes, you are right to draw attention
to that. That is something we are looking at in the sense of the
pass system and maybe we should be looking at it more. Where I
would have more concernand this is something that is being
looked an internationallyis the IT security of aviation
systems more generally for aircraft and air navigation systems.
That is something that is being looked at internationally. It
is not something that Transec has any expertise on but there are
others who have expertise who are looking at that issue.
898. You would look at what other countries
do in that area and if there are lessons to be learned, you would
(Mr Devlin) Yes, we would look at international standards.
This issue has been raised in ICAO.
899. Finally, the press reports into robberies
and all the issues around passes were all post 11 September. Is
that an indicator to you that perhaps the industry has not looked
seriously enough at the implications of 11 September?
(Mr Devlin) I would not like to generalise, but certainly
in those instances, yes, it would appear that there were practices
that were not as tight as they should have been. As it happens,
we already had a working party looking at the whole pass issue
issue and it was working towards recommendations on the tightening
up of the management of passes and the control of people's movements
within restricted zones so that passes would be more sophisticated.
You would not just get one pass which allowed you into a restricted
zone. You might get a pass to allow you into a compartment of
a restricted zone. That work was already going on. It perhaps
went on hold briefly but it is now having to accelerate. It went
on hold briefly because we were focused on bringing out new directions
but it is now having to accelerate because there are issues there
that we need to address urgently and they are being addressed.
(Mr Elbourne) In relation to the two robberies police
enquiries are continuing. We do not yet know how the perpetrators
got into the RZ so there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
Chairman: Invariably whenever there is
a major heist the major suspect or the person who ends up in jail
is an employee of the organisation that has been attacked. In
the famous incident at Heathrow 25 years ago an employee was part
of the robbery. It is very sad for people who are honest because
they will be the first people to be investigated. James Cran?