Following the post on Avionics forecast this week we have had a look at the safety and security forecast.
Over the past decade aviation accident numbers have plateaued. This means that forecasting is more difficult. Industry experts have asked us to consider the impact of a shortage of pilots, maintenance engineers and instructors for both specialisations. Combine this with continued pressure on airline profits caused by excess capacity, plus high oil prices, and it seems increasingly likely that there is potential for accident figures to rise.
Other factors in this grim forecast include the atomisation that pilots work with. As they now lack more experience in handling aircraft there is further potential for loss of control in the event of an emergency. It was also noted that training requirements have not been subject to the proportionate level of change as technology.
Bodies such as IATA and the CAA acknowledge these facts.
Regarding security the modernisation of passenger security checks has been promised and improved technologies are in active development, but there is no sign of delivery in the next 12 months.
Indeed, there is a risk the current economic situation will reduce the willingness of government agencies, airports and airlines to invest, pushing improvements further into the future.
The vision of the future may vary according to which security equipment company is describing it, but would involve a passenger walking down a short aisle in which he or she would present a micro chipped passport for automatic scanning, while simultaneously undergoing unobtrusive explosive scanning and biometric identification by facial profiling.
Meanwhile, hand baggage would be fully checked without the need to open it or separate items within it. Finally, if everything tallied, the barrier would drop, allowing the passenger through to airside.
The UK government proposes to replace its “direct and inspect” approach with what it calls an outcome-focused, risk-based approach. The aim is for the aviation industry “to design security processes that deliver specified security outcomes rather than having to follow detailed rules”, says the UK Department for Transport.
All the activity and ideas are certainly a sign of a wish to modernise, but the delivery is not in sight.