• Airport securityTSA continues to use unscientific, unreliable program blamed for profiling

    Thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers use so-called “behavior detection” techniques to scrutinize travelers for yawning, whistling, being distracted, arriving late for a flight, and scores of other behaviors that the TSA calls signs of deception or “mal-intent.” The officers then flag certain people for additional screening and questioning. Documents the ACLU has obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show that the TSA itself has plenty of material showing that such techniques are not grounded in valid science — and they create an unacceptable risk of racial and religious profiling. Indeed, TSA officers themselves have said that the program has been used to do just that.

  • Real IDAirports post REAL ID deadline warning signs

    Many U.S. airports have posted signs to alert travelers that beginning 22 January 2018, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will begin to enforce the REAL ID requirements at airport security checkpoints. DHS says that a year from now, passengers presenting a driver’s license or identification card from states not in compliance with the REAL ID Act’s security standards — states, that is, which have not received an extension from DHS — may not be allowed to board.

  • PrivacyLegacy travel booking systems do not protect travelers’ private information

    Travel bookings worldwide are maintained in a handful of systems. The three largest — Global Distributed Systems (GDS) Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport — administer more than 90 percent of flight reservations as well as numerous hotel, car, and other travel bookings. The most important security feature lacking from all three GDSs is a proper way to authenticate travelers.

  • Border securityRobotic lie detector for border, aviation security

    When you engage in international travel, you may one day find yourself face-to-face with border security that is polite, bilingual and responsive — and robotic. The Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real Time (AVATAR) is currently being tested in conjunction with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to help border security agents determine whether travelers coming into Canada may have undisclosed motives for entering the country.

  • Airport securityTSA could save money by waiving PreCheck fees for frequent travelers

    There is an easy way to reduce lines at the airport, increase security and save the Transportation Security Administration money, according to a new study: waive the $85 fee for frequent fliers to enroll in the TSA PreCheck program, which allows pre-screened, verified travelers to go through expedited security at airports.

  • Law enforcementPolice say they lack powers to probe phone involvement in crashes

    Four out of five collision investigators surveyed for the research indicated mobile phone involvement in non-fatal accidents was under-reported, with half agreeing the role of phones was even overlooked in fatal crashes. Police officers are worried they lack the right powers and resources properly to investigate whether a mobile phone was being used by a driver at the time of a crash, a new study has found.

  • AviationColombia plane crash: how can people survive deadly air disasters?

    By Graham Braithwaite

    A plane crash in Colombia has killed 71 people including most of one of Brazil’s top football teams, leaving just six survivors. While the investigation may take some time to reveal the factors behind the accident, the distressingly high – but not total – number of fatalities raises the question of how some people are able to survive such a devastating disaster. When an accident occurs, what is it that determines that some passengers survive when many others on the same flight do not?

  • Port securityCybersecurity to bolster safe transfer of hazardous liquids at ports

    The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) oversees approximately 800 waterfront facilities that, among other activities, transfer hazardous liquids between marine vessels and land-based pipelines, tanks or vehicles. These “maritime bulk liquid transfers” increasingly rely on computers to operate valves and pumps, monitor sensors, and perform many other vital safety and security functions. This makes the whole system more vulnerable to cybersecurity issues ranging from malware to human error, and is the reason behind a new voluntary cybersecurity guide for the industry.

  • AviationInnovative technologies sought for aviation security

    A £2 million competition to help find new ways to protect air passengers has been announced by the U.K. government’s Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) team. The Home Office and Department for Transport team have jointly launched a competition through the Center for Defense Enterprise (CDE) as part of its wider FASS program worth £25.5 million until 2021. Suppliers are being asked to develop truly innovative technologies, with a focus on people, baggage, and cargo security.

  • Bermuda TriangleBermuda Triangle mystery may have been solved

    It is estimated that over the last 100 years, hundreds of ships, at least 75 planes, and thousands of lives have been lost art the Bermuda Triangle. A group of satellite meteorologists may have solved the mystery of the triangle: Hexagonal clouds, creating “air-bombs” with winds of up to 170mph, capable of plunging planes into the sea and flipping ships, are said to be behind the mysterious disappearances at sea.

  • AviationNumbers count: Public interested in plane crashes only if death toll is 50 or higher

    Data reveal which plane crashes the public is interested in and why. Researchers counted the number of page views and edits of Wikipedia articles about 1,500 plane crashes around the world to discover that a death toll of around fifty is the minimum threshold for predicting significant levels of public interest. The data also show that the amount of interest in the relevant articles accelerates in line with the numbers who died.

  • NavigationNo GPS, no problem: Next-gen navigation

    Researchers have developed a highly reliable and accurate navigation system that exploits existing environmental signals such as cellular and Wi-Fi, rather than the Global Positioning System (GPS). The technology can be used as a standalone alternative to GPS, or complement current GPS-based systems to enable highly reliable, consistent, and tamper-proof navigation. The technology could be used to develop navigation systems that meet the stringent requirements of fully autonomous vehicles, such as driverless cars and unmanned drones.

  • AviationSouthwest Airlines, police remove Muslim from plane for saying “inshallah”

    Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old Berkeley graduate, was removed from a Southwest Airline plane at Los Angeles International Airport in April this year — after another passenger overheard him speaking Arabic on his mobile phone. He was escorted off the plane by police officers, searched, and dogs sniffed his luggage. The Department of Transportation is investigating. “This is our home,” he said of the United States (he came here legally in 2010). “We don’t have another home. The experience [in April] was just unpleasant,” he said.

  • DecontaminationCleaning concrete contaminated with chemicals

    In March 1995, members of a Japanese cult released the deadly nerve agent sarin into the Tokyo subway system, killing a dozen people and injuring a thousand more. This leads to the question: What if a U.S. transportation hub was contaminated with a chemical agent? The hub might be shut down for weeks, which could have a substantial economic impact. Craig Tenney, a chemical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, is looking for better ways to clean contaminated concrete to reduce that impact.

  • AviationNew inquiry into 2010 Smolensk plane crash suggests collusion between governments of Poland, Russia

    A new Polish commission, set up to investigating anew the 2010 plane crash which killed President Lech Kaczyński and ninety-five others, has released its report, accusing the previous investigative commission, which did its work in 2011, of doctoring evidence and documents and manipulating facts. The 2011 commission attributed the crash to errors by the Polish pilots who tried to land the plane in dense fog. The new commission, appointed by Kaczyński’s twin brother, who now leads Poland’s nationalist government, hints that the crash may have been the result of a collusion between the Polish government at the time and Russia.