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What is airport security?

Airport security is the set of technological equipment, qualified personnel, and protocols implemented at airport facilities, their vicinities, and on aircraft intended to enter or leave those facilities in order to ensure the integrity of individuals and the proper functioning of all activity that takes place at airports. Airport security also has to do with preventing any criminal incursions, such as smuggling drugs, weapons, or other illegal goods.

What are the objectives of airport security?

  • Passenger and baggage inspection: this entails reviewing identity documents, scanning baggage, and security checks.
  • Access control: the use of identification systems, accreditations, biometric controls, and trained security personnel ensures that only authorized individuals can reach restricted areas, such as the runway, the aircraft cargo area, the control tower, and the hangars.
  • Detecting weapons, explosives, and drugs: metal detectors, canine units, X-rays, and other advanced technologies are used, such as trace detectors that read vapor samples or swabs.
  • Monitoring goods: this involves thorough inspections of the cargo and mail transported on airplanes.
  • Surveillance and monitoring: these processes detect suspicious behavior or unauthorized activities through the joint work of agents who are circulating or arranged across strategic sites, video surveillance and detection systems, etc.
  • Cooperation and coordination: different entities, such as airport authorities, security agencies, law enforcement agencies, and even airlines, are committed to collaborating and facilitating the exchange of information.

Who determines airport security protocols?

As airport activity often connects different countries, security standards at airports are governed by national and international agreements that are continually being updated.

Some of the entities involved in setting the standards for airport security are the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations; the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the United States; the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); and each of the institutions intended to direct and regulate civil aviation activity in each country, as well as the organizations involved in airport management.

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