Watch Redline’s Commercial Director speaking about the recent Egypt plane crash on BBC World News. Please click on the image below to see the full interview or look below at the interview transcript.
Tim Willcox: Well let’s speak to the Aviation Security expert Jim Termini who is also a former Airbus A321 pilot, this is the same type of plane that crashed in Egypt, he is also a specialist for aviation security training for airport staff and he joins us from our studio in Sheffield.
Sharm el Sheikh International Airport, it is in a difficult area but it’s within a ring of steel. How difficult do you think it would be to smuggle some sort of device on a plane bound for the UK or anywhere else internationally?
Jim Termini: There are various routes where a device could be smuggled onto an aircraft, there is either the direct route of an individual placing a device on something or inside something that’s then placed directly inside the aeroplane at some point or another. Or there is the indirect threat, where somebody is told to plant a bomb possibly under duress. It was used to great effect by the IRA in the 80s and 90s; put the bomb in your suitcase otherwise we have got your family. So it depends whether we are talking about direct or indirect placement of the device.
Tim Willcox: Also explosives now becoming increasingly difficult to trace; one thinks for example the shoe bomber and also how small these particular devices can be.
Jim Termini: Well actually, detection of explosives has come on hugely in the last 10 years or so. There are devices now that many people see in airports that operate on a forensic level, where the swabs that are taken will detect molecular levels of explosives. So the detection of explosives has moved on, and we can do that both through trace detection and also through imaging techniques as well such as on x-ray.
Tim Willcox: Ok, but explosives do still get smuggled on, so how is that still possible? So the forensics aren’t quite as good as they need to be.
Jim Termini: Well we say that explosives are smuggled on; we’ve made the assumption and it is still an assumption at this point that an explosive device was placed inside this aircraft.
Tim Willcox: I’m not making an assumption on this case, I am just talking about how previous cases explosives do manage to get on board.
Jim Termini: Of course they do and we tend to react to the placement of explosives, so the device that was placed on Pan AM 103 over Lockerbie for example led to a string of enhancements and security to detect that type of device. The underpants device of Abdulmutallab, that was a particularly clever method of smuggling explosives on board that the industry and aviation security sector has had to react to very quickly.
Tim Willcox: When you think about the hundreds and thousands of people employed at international airports and in particular the geographical location of Sharm el Sheikh, that raises real headaches for airport authorities and national governments even if Sharm el Sheikh as we know is actually a resort within a ring of steel in a troubled, volatile area.
Jim Termini: It is very difficult to protect aviation regardless of the location given there is so many supply chains and routes on board an aircraft. If you think of just the supply chain supports, air cargo, inflight supplies which of course includes not just the catering but inflight retail and anything else that’s used on board an aircraft, as well of course as the passengers and the crew themselves, it’s a very long and can be convoluted supply chain that has to be defended from some point or another.
Tim Willcox: You are a former pilot; you’re now an aviation security specialist. What more, in your view, could be done at international airports to improve safety or would it make the business of travelling or flying almost unbearable in terms of security checks you’d need?
Jim Termini: Yes, the ever growing conflict for us in the aviation security sector is that we could stop everything on board an aeroplane and that’s simply by grounding them. But that of course is not the point of aviation, the point of aviation is to get passengers from A to B as safely and as securely as possible. Now we can be as imaginative as the terrorist but of course it’s very difficult to justify the cost of defending against a threat that hasn’t actually occurred, and that is the ever growing conundrum that we face.
News Reporter: Jim Termini, thank you very much for joining us on global today.
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