The U.S. government agency responsible for airport security says its top priority is increasing training of security personnel to detect explosive devices on passengers and in their luggage.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. One of its tasks has been to implement screening of all checked baggage for explosives prior to their being loaded onto commercial passenger planes.
TSA Director Kip Hawley says the human mind is the best technology, and that is why training must be increased and enhanced for personnel who screen passengers boarding American airplanes.
"Our security process and training should be based on taking advantage of the combined thinking power of everyone at every level of TSA Continued challenging training is the way to do that," he said.
Hawley told a U.S. Senate committee Tuesday that American aviation security is formidable, consisting of some 15 layers of measures to protect passengers.
"Each one by itself is capable of stopping a terrorist attack," he explained. "Together, as one system, they have tremendous resilience against expected and unexpected attack scenarios."
One of those layers is the screening process. Gregory Principato, who represents airport owners and operators, worries that the rapidly growing number of air travelers in the United States has pushed passenger and baggage screening capabilities to the limit.
"Without dramatic changes to today's aviation security model, we will not be able to meet the demands created by the nearly 300 million additional passengers who will be added to our crowded aviation system within the next decade, that is the combined population of the United States and Canada that we are going to add to our system in the next decade," he noted.
Principato says the TSA must move beyond the current, labor intensive system and adopt a more efficient means of using technology and personnel. He says that would help speed up the screening process for all travelers.
The senators say their constituents are very concerned about airline security, and they urged the TSA to keep working on ways to improve screening without compromising passenger privacy.