• Can next-generation bomb ‘sniffing’ technology outdo dogs on explosives detection?

    By David Atkinson

    With each terrorist attack on another airport, train station, or other public space, the urgency to find new ways to detect bombs before they’re detonated ratchets up. What researchers have wanted to develop for a long time is a new chemical detection technology that could “sniff” for explosives vapor, much like a canine does. Many efforts over the years fell short as not being sensitive enough. My research team has been working on this problem for nearly two decades – and we’re making good headway. Inspired by the tremendous detection capabilities of dogs, we’ve made remarkable advances toward developing technology that can follow in their footsteps. Deploying vapor analysis for explosives can both enhance security levels and provide a less intrusive screening environment. Continuing research aims to hone the technology and lower its costs so it can be deployed at an airport near you.

  • Turkey identifies the three terrorists as a Russian, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz

    Turkish security officials have said that the three terrorists who attacked the Istanbul airport were foreign nationals – a Russian, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz. The officials, who spoke with Western news agencies, said that investigators faced difficulties identifying the bombers from their limited remains, but a pro-government Turkish newspaper had said the Russian bomber was from Dagestan, a restless province which borders Chechnya.

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  • 41 killed, 239 injured in three suicide explosions at Istanbul Atatürk airport

    Turkish authorities say that forty-one people have been killed and 239injured in a terrorist attack on Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul Atatürk. The airport is Europe’s third busiest airport. The Turkish Ministry of Justice said that two terrorists blew themselves up outside the security checkpoint at the entry to the international terminal. A third terrorist blew himself up in the terminal’s parking lot. Recent months have seen an increase in terrorist attacks against Turkish civilians. These attacks have been carried out by both ISIS Islamists and PKK Kurdish separatists.

  • Lawmakers call for lifting “arbitrary,” “illogical” cap on the number of airport screeners

    The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union representing Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) at U.S. airports, says recent Congressional actions to reduce passenger wait times are a good step but that the permanent solution remains hiring an additional 6,000 full-time screeners.

  • Testing NYC subway biodefenses

    Researchers took to the New York City subway system 9-13 May to study how a surrogate for a biological agent, such as anthrax, might disperse throughout the nation’s largest rapid transit system as a result of a terrorist attack or an accidental release. The study is part of a five-year DHS project called Underground Transport Restoration (UTR) and was conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

  • The security effectiveness of TSA’s expedited screening can be improved: GAO

    In 2015, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened or oversaw the screening of more than 708 million passengers at more than 450 U.S airports. In two recent reports, the GAO addresses the extent to which TSA (1) has taken steps to improve the security effectiveness of expedited screening, and (2) uses screening personnel (TSO) performance testing data to enhance TSO performance in screening for prohibited items.

  • Data contained in the black boxes should be stored in the cloud: Expert

    Researcher in the field of networked electronic and radio systems say information stored in an aircraft’s flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit data recorder (CDR) — the so-called black boxes — should be streamed to a safe cloud storage facility.

  • Airport executives from forty countries to visit Israel for security lessons

    With concern rising after a string of terror attacks, airport representatives from forty countries will visit Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport next month to learn about Ben-Gurion’s security procedures. Ben-Gurion is one of the world’s safest airports — no flight departing Israel has ever been hijacked, and there has not been a terrorist attack at Ben-Gurion since 1972.

  • Study probes impact of terror on business travelers, managers

    A joint study of terror’s impact on business travelers and business travel managers revealed surprising results, especially with regard to traveler fears and anxiety. Among other findings, the study found that 31 percent of business travelers worry that a reluctance to travel could hurt their career, and that 6 percent would not feel comfortable expressing their concerns to upper management.

  • Maritime vessels at risk of cyberattack because of outdated systems

    Maritime vessels are under significant threat of cyber-attack because many are carrying outdated software and were not designed with cyber security in mind, according to new research. But operators could easily mitigate against such dangers by updating security systems, improving ship design and providing better training for crews.

  • TSA’s head of security dismissed against backdrop of long waits at security lines

    Kelley Hoggan, TSA’s head of security, dismissed after a contentious Hill hearing on long airport security lines. Travelers in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport complained of two-hour waits. Questions raised about $90,000 in bonuses and awards given to Hogan.

  • Is commercial aviation as safe and secure as we’re told?

    By Frederic Lemieux

    Commercial aviation is not quite as safe as we assume. The problem is that by limiting our measurement of security to fatal incidents, we narrow our appraisal of risk. Aviation from this perspective appears to be very secure. Crashes, after all, are rare events. However, if we take into account all the nonfatal incidents, which most people are not aware of, then the actual risk of accident in the airline industry is higher.

  • Search lead by Egypt's military finds plane wreckage north of Alexandria

    An Egypt-led search has uncovered “wreckage” and “personal belongings of passengers.” “Egyptian aircraft and navy vessels have found personal belongings of passengers and parts of the wreckage 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Alexandria,” Egyptian army spokesman Mohammed Samir in a statement published on Facebook. Thursday’s even is but the latest in a troubling series of aviation crises in Egypt this past year.

  • Israel’s airport security model may not be suitable for European airports

    Israel has a justified reputation as a country offering tight aviation and airport security. Thus, although Israel has been the targets of various forms of terrorism for decades, no one has been killed or wounded inside Ben Gurion airport, or on board an aircraft departing from the airport, for the last forty-four years. Experts say that Europe cannot emulate all aspects of Israel’s approach to aviation security, but that the core idea — that potentially higher risk passengers should be singled out as early as possible before they board the plane – should be adopted, subject to European laws and norms.

  • Man who forcibly pulled off woman's hijab during flight pleads guilty

    Gill Payne, 37, on Friday pled guilty to using force to obstruct the religious freedom of a Muslim woman, who was identified in court by the letters KA. In December 2015, Payne was on a SouthWest Airlines plane flying from Chicago to Albuquerque. He noticed a woman sitting a few rows ahead of him, wearing a hijab. Witnesses said that he got out of his seat, walked down the aisle toward her, grabbed the hijab to expose her head, and shouted, “Take this off. This is America.”