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ERA attends latest SAGAS meeting

ERA attended the latest (89th) meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Group on Aviation Security (SAGAS), held at the European Commission (EC) in Brussels on 22 June.  SAGAS is a formally constituted consultation body that meets approximately six times a year, hosted by the European Commission (DG-MOVE), and attended by member state security and industry representatives.

Proceedings commenced with the adoption without modification of the minutes from the previous (88th) SAGAS meeting, which took place on 2 March 2017.

The first item on the agenda was an update regarding the continuing dialogue between EC and US officials in respect to the current ban (by the US) on the carriage of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) larger than smartphones in the passenger cabin being extended to include transatlantic flights from Europe.  It was encouraging to learn that the EC has gone some way to convincing the US on the safety implications such an extension of the ban will cause, including the requirement of such devices to be carried in the aircraft hold.  However, an extension to the ban is still not off the table and there will be further discussion between EC and US officials in the coming weeks.

Under the ‘International developments’ session of the meeting, both ICAO and ECAC provided a short update on their respective activity.  ICAO announced that three Aviation Security Task Force working groups have been formed which will met in July to discuss the threat from IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), whereas ECAC have been continuing their consultation with EU member states on the use of explosive vapour detection equipment at airports.

ACI Europe (Airports Council International) provided an interesting overview of the various policy initiatives covering airport security.  The question on whether the correct mitigating measures are in place at EU airport checkpoint security was discussed and a revival of the risk assessment on this issue will commence in September.  ACI provided an update from their Advanced Cabin Baggage Systems Operational work group, which included the request to allow contact lens solution to be treated as a medicine as part of the screening process.  Of particular note was the potential problem regarding baggage trays, where is has been identified there is a possibility some types of tray could actually hinder the effectiveness of detecting equipment.

Regarding landside and public area security, the meeting learned how eleven participating airports have taken part in a study on evaluating ways of reinforcing their security.  It is estimated that the final results from this study will be made available in August.

The meeting concluded with one item under AOB regarding airports where there is a joint civil and military operation.  In particular, there was agreement that different interpretations exist between EU member states on how such airports should isolate the respective civilian and military operational areas from one another, with markings, fences and/or other obstructions being suggested.  However, there are concerns as to whether such initiatives provide any added security value.  Therefore, the meeting agreed further clarification is required on the exact security measures that require putting in place.

The next SAGAS meeting will take place in August, with an exact time/date to be confirmed.

For further information, please contact Christopher.mason@eraa.org