Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1340
WEDNESDAY 8 MAY 2002
1340. My question concerns the heightened security
measures that Transec have introduced since September 11, what
I would describe as long term enhancement to the base line, ie,
permanent security measures, as distinct from the enhanced security
measures introduced immediately after the 11 September (and you
were referring to that distinction) which were designed for a
high threat situation and which, if left in place indefinitely,
eventually would bring the industry to a halt. The crunch of my
question is, how do you balance the need to keep the aviation
industry economically viable and operational with the demands
of security and find that balance between what is vital, necessary
and then acceptable in terms of both the passenger and industry
(Mr Jack) There is a continuous dialogue between the
industry and the regulators. The regulators are responsible for
assessing the threat. We make representations to ensure that the
measures that are required of us are commensurate with the threat
because we have a business to run, but we recognise the need to
protect our passengers, crew and aircraft against any security
threat. We have to balance those requirements against the measures
that the Government require us to perform. I do not know if that
answers your question.
1341. I think so, yes, because it is not a question
that there is a nice, one-line answer to. There are so many considerations.
(Mr Hutcheson) I think that through continuous research
and development and looking for new technologies and finding smarter
ways of doing things you can design processes that allow more
people to pass through airports, that is what it is all about.
The threat and risk are key and I believe that if the threat is
sufficient then airlines would not fly to specific destinations
and airports would not operate if the threat was so high and that
was the advice from Government. I think you go through an immediate
reaction where you are doing absolutely everything. The shoe bomb
is a classic example because everybody starts looking at shoes,
but my view is that it is not the shoes that are important; it
is the methodology of the type of attack and we need to be a bit
smarter in how we look at things. How can we use existing technologies
in a different way that allows us to screen people? You do find
things that will enable you to do that. Some of the solutions
are a bit more long term and that is where we are prepared to
invest in new technologies that will allow us to continue to operate
airports by ensuring the safety of the people that use them.
Chairman: Perhaps it is ironic when asking
these serious questions on airline safety as the Defence Committee
are going in the next few weeks on a series of visits which will
involve British Airways, Alitalia, British Midland, Tarom Romania,
Hemus (Bulgaria), Estonia Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Adria Airlines
and Lufthansa. We will talk to you afterwards because we need
a scoring card quickly please, speaking for myself.
1342. Clearly trusted passenger statusI
am sure you have thought this through. There are going to be sleepers
who are going to be operating long term in some areas of society.
I appreciate that it is going to be very difficult to balance
against that threat. What thought has been given to that?
(Mr Hutcheson) That is why there would always be a
level of security check. You would never get someone who would
be exempt from security irrespective of what status they had.
I would argue that the baseline we had pre-September 11 is almost
good enough post September 11 because, if you look at September
11, it was a hijack, and the mind set of a passenger hijack before
September 11 was, in fact all the corporate security advice was,
"Sit quietly, do nothing. It will ultimately be resolved.
If you are really unlucky you might be the hostage that gets shot
but nine times out of ten you will survive." September 11
changed all that it was a classic example, before September 11
Reid would have been able to detonate those shoes, but post September
11 not only are crew trained to deal with a hijack, but I think
other passengers would never allow a plane to be hijacked. I travel
a bit, as you probably do. If you watch people, they are much
more observant about what is going on in the aeroplane.
1343. At the moment, yes.
(Mr Hutcheson) I just think it has changed the whole
psyche around hijacking. Maybe we need to be smarter and, as Mr
Knight referred to, we need to be conscious of what has gone on
in the past but we also need to have an eye as to what could happen
in the future and we really need to think out of the box as to
who and what we need to combat in the future.
1344. In your profiling I do not know whether
political correctness will enter into your analyses, but I can
imagine some representatives of ethnic, religious and social groups
may claim that you are discriminating against them. I can see
not just the technical decisions you will have to take but there
are some other decisions also.
(Mr Hutcheson) That is why it is not easy and that
is why the criteria has to be very carefully designed.
Mr Howarth: Chairman, perhaps we should
put a D notice on your announcement about which airlines we were
all flying on.
Chairman: I have not given the dates.
1345. Mr Hutcheson, you mentioned biometrics
and someone has mentioned the work that Qinetiq is doing. Can
you tell us a bit more about the biometrics technology? What ones
are you looking at most favourably at the moment? Do you see any
health risks arising out of particularly the one that assesses
(Mr Hutcheson) Basically for me the key biometrics
are iris scan, facial recognition, which is a full computerised
comparison of points on the face with a photographic database,
and fingerprint. These are the biometrics that industry are considering
using. The iris scan is being used in an immigration trial and
not a security trial. I do believe that we will very soon add
a biometric to our access control system. There is even some suggestion
that you could use a biometric as part of a passenger profiling
1346. Can you elaborate on that? How would that
(Mr Hutcheson) You would have a biometric imprint
of some description taken at check-in which would be re-checked
at the boarding gate to make sure that the passenger that checked
in is the passenger that gets on board the aircraft. It is time-consuming
and it may not work in practice. If you have to use a threat assessment
to make some judgements about which flights you use it forand
you might want to do it for every flightthere are trials
currently running at Gatwick which actually works using the fingerprint.
I believe that the iris scan is quite popular. There will be people
who might be nervous about continually having their eyes scanned.
The fingerprint has been around for ever and I think it is a fairly
easy biometric to use. Two years ago we ran facial recognition
trials at Heathrow where we were trying to track a moving image
using facial recognition technology and the results were disappointing.
Facial recognition works where the subject is static in front
of a camera and again static when the comparison is made. We are
working with many different companies to look at different biometrics.
I do believe that whatever biometrics are decided it will have
to be decided by Government, ie, TRANSEC, because it would be
difficult if every airline and every airport was allowed freedom
of choice as to which biometric they were going to use. As a passenger
and customer you would not actually know what was expected of
you. I think there will have to be a decision within TRANSEC as
to what the UK biometric will be, certainly for staff. That may
well come in the not too distant future. The passenger biometric
may be a bit further away but we do see biometrics as a weapon
that we can deploy in the fight against terrorism.
1347. The US immigration and naturalisation
service passenger accelerated service system, INSPAS, apparently
has been introduced at eight US airports to provide fast immigration
processing for organised frequent flyers entering the US and Canada.
(Mr Jack) That system is first generation. It uses
a hand print.
1348. It is hand geometry, is it not?
(Mr Jack) Yes. I used it regularly at JFK and it does
not work very well. I think the future lies in the types of biometrics
that Mr Hutcheson has mentioned. I should like to add something
here though, that one of the ICAO standards that was agreed in
November last year was to extend the international standards to
domestic flights as well. That will mean in the United Kingdom
photograph ID for people who are checking in and also for boarding
the aircraft. I do not know where the population of the United
Kingdom is going to find some form of photographic ID if there
are no identity cards when the identity card really is the way
1349. Ryanair and Easyjet do it.
(Mr Jack) They do, but I will tell you why they do
it. At the moment they do it for fraud because people book on
line and turn up with a credit card to collect their ticket and
so they ask for photographic ID to make it clear that they are
the person who actually booked the ticket and paid for the ticket.
That is why they are doing it now, but this will follow.
(Mr Hutcheson) They do it for check-in as well.
(Mr Jack) The facilitation in the UK for domestic
flights will be greatly aided if every citizen had an ID card.
Mr Howarth: I do not think it would be
wise, Mr Jack, to mention too far down that road of a mandatory
ID card simply to promote this particular business when we all
carry cards with our photographs on for membership of the House
of Commons and most people have photographic recognition of one
form or another.
Chairman: I see we are all displaying
1350. I do not think we should be going down
that road. If the Government is to decide on a common system,
in order to expedite this and to take advantage of what is perhaps
a momentary lull in this relentless growth in aviation activity,
are you putting pressure on the Government to come up with a scheme
which you rightly say ought to be applied nationally, and is there
any sense in which such a biometrics screening system ought to
be approved to an international standard, which of course means
it would be delayed yet longer?
(Mr Jack) I think by force majeure this may
arrive. I do not know if you are aware that the United States
are demanding that passports used for entering the United States
should have biometrics, I think, by 2005. I do not know what the
response is going to be from other governments but the individual
departments in the US, Customs, Immigration and Security, are
making these requirements and of course they are using the US
Safe Transportation for America Act as the instrument to introduce
1351. What form of biometrics are they going
to insist upon?
(Mr Jack) I do not know.
1352. So it has got to be done by 2005 but actually
they have not decided what the technology ought to be?
(Mr Jack) No. There should be an international standard,
which Mr Hutcheson has already identified.
(Mr Hutcheson) To answer the part of the question
about pressure on Government, there has been a joint Home Office/DTLR
Working Party which is linked to aviation security and the use
of biometric has been recommended. The trick now is to take that
recommendation and implement it but, for the reasons I have already
articulated, I think that the specific biometric should come from
Government as opposed to from industry to avoid confusion.
1353. On to airport security and staff. It seems
to me, as we have conducted this inquiry, that standards of security
and so on at British airports are among the best as far as I can
see, but the problem is always going to be not necessarily at
that end of it. It is the end of implementation, so when you think
about staff, for instance, many of them are doing vitally important
but repetitious jobs and if you are doing a repetitious job what
happens is that your effectiveness does reduce quite dramatically.
Canter through what you are doing to tackle that end of what I
see as the problem.
(Mr Hutcheson) The most repetitive and probably the
most important job is the X-ray screener. In relation to carry-on
baggage, that which you take into the cabin, the requirements
are that he can only do that job for 20 minutes then they have
to be replaced and cannot return for 40 minutes. We deploy people
in teams to rotate them around so that they have variety of deployment
to try and overcome some of the issues that you raise. In relation
to hold baggage screening, because the bags do not come in such
a heavy volume, the rotation period is 40 minutes. One of the
issues around motivation is feedback: how do you know how well
you are doing if you are an X-ray screener? In December 2000 we
introduced technology called threat image projection which projects
a threat into the normal throughput in the X-ray machine, so your
briefcase, your suitcase, will have a weapon of some description
or an improvised device projected into the bag so that when it
appears before the operator there is a threat that they have to
identify. Apart from driving up the performance remarkably, it
has really motivated staff because they are not getting feedback
from their line managers or their supervisors; they are getting
direct feedback from the machine in front of them. We all like
to know how well we are doing at work and, as I say, this has
provided feedback for screeners. BAA have seconded two members
of staff to the Department of Transport to help them work up a
programme for certification of X-ray screeners. By April 2003
we will introduce certified screeners. To be deployed as an X-ray
screener you will actually have to be given some tests and be
certified. We have to have a re training programme for those who
cannot meet the standard. I did talk earlier about basic training.
We also run tests, our own covert test programme, at each of our
airports which I oversee. The mode of tests are set by me. The
results for each airport ultimately work through into senior management
incentive schemes, which link senior management to grass roots
performance. It is by introducing technology such as this that
we will address the motivational issues. I think in BAA one of
the reasons that we continually insist on employing our own staff
is that it is entirely possible to join the company as a security
guard and move through other functions in the business to management
and that spurs people on to perform and to be part of the company
1354. You are saying the right things and so
on that I can empathise with but again it is the question of knowing
what that means. You said driving up performance remarkably.
(Mr Hutcheson) Yes.
1355. But that is a non-specific statement.
I know what it means but I would like to know how you measure
it. For instance, we all have experiences and my little experience
was going over to the United States with my wife not too many
weeks ago. I had a penknife and scissors in my hand luggage, so
had she; it was picked up in my one but not in her one. This is
always going to be with us. Therefore, what is the level of toleration
that you will put up with?
(Mr Hutcheson) The answer is that we should not put
up with any.
1356. But life is not like that.
(Mr Hutcheson) I am glad you said that because I very
much subscribe to that view.
1357. But I am disappointed that you agree with
(Mr Hutcheson) I am in a no-win situation here. We
are actually dealing with human beings and no matter what job
we do we all make mistakes. We have remedial training in place.
In terms of driving up performance I could be much more specific
but it is a very confidential area and I can only talk around
it in some ways. The threat image projection has threats in three
different categories: knives, guns and improvised explosive devices.
We are waiting for a move forward in the technology which means
we will be able to do it for individuals and that is where the
real motivational bit comes in because we will be able to tailor
people's training to their own individual performance. Why should
I train somebody again to detect knives and guns when they are
already very good at it but they are not very good at detecting
other things? The next generation of the software, which is just
around the corner, will enable us to very much tailor training
programmes for the individual. At the moment we track the percentage
scores in each of these three categories for the searches in our
airports and we did take a benchmark before we started using this
technology so we know where performance was when we switched it
on and I can tell you where it is now in relation to performance.
I have got the two sets of figures which I am not prepared to
state in a public arena. It is not a generic off-the-cuff management
statement that performance has gone up specifically, I can actually
substantiate that with facts and figures.
1358. And you will be able to do that on a confidential
basis to the Committee?
(Mr Hutcheson) I can do that.
1359. Clearly that is the important end of all
of this. What about other staff employed by the airports authorities,
by the airlines and so on, who are not in front line security
positions but who nonetheless probably have quite a role to play
in overall security as well? How are they vetted and how are they
trained, if that question is valid?
(Mr Hutcheson) We actually do not distinguish, we
employ an omni-competent security employee who does the full range
of security duties. We need to do that in some ways to maintain
the rotation around the X-ray machine if you can only do 20 minutes.
Everyone who joins us as a security operative is trained to the
same standards and I would say are trained above the Government
standards. There is the basic programme and we do more than the
basic programme. We also have training built into the line. If
someone is found to have made a mistake, as we talked about earlier,
they are immediately removed from the function that they are performing
and retrained in that particular function before they are allowed
to return to that function. The Department also lays down that
there is annual refresher training carried out. Over and above
that we have specific training for supervisors and managers and
that applies to the BAA security workforce. I cannot talk for
the private security companies, BAA do not use private security
companies, we employ our own labour.