Israel's Air Safety Inspection as a World Model

- Apr 11, 2019-

Most people who have traveled on the EL AL flights have bad memories: they have to arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance, the security procedures are time-consuming and complicated, the luggage boxes go back and forth through the X-ray machine are not counted, and most of them have to be opened, so that the security personnel can look at them one by one, whether underwear or ladies'articles may be made public.


In addition, there is also a unique security inspection project - interview. With a series of questions, specially trained questioners "sincerely" stare into your eyes to see if there are any clues to their suspicion. Many questions are suspected of infringing on privacy, or even asking questions like "How many wives do you have?" It's easy to feel like you're picking bones in your eggs. So, almost everyone here has the experience of having an impatient quarrel with the aviation security personnel.

However, after Sept. 11, the safety inspection of Israel Airlines suddenly attracted the attention of all airlines. David Helmesh, president of Israel Airlines, said that his office's telephone had been ringing since then, hoping that Israel Airlines could provide advice and suggestions.

On September 13, Israeli airplanes became international flights allowed to fly over New York; within 48 hours, New York-Tel Aviv routes opened 16 more. Airlines around the world are cutting flights and staff, while Air Israel leases three planes to meet the growing demand for passengers.

Why is the security of Israel Airlines so reassuring? This is because of the special security environment of the Israeli state, which makes Israel have a paranoid fear that "there may be a bomb in every box".

Since 1968 * and so far * when the hijackers were handled by an airplane, the airline has been equipped with plainclothes on its flights. Now, there are one or two armed policemen on every flight of Israel Airlines.

Moreover, the cockpit door was modified by air: special door locks were added, and double doors were installed on some aircraft. Pilots were particularly warned not to open hatches in times of crisis. On September 6, 1970, in an attempted hijacking at Israel Airlines, although the hijacker had killed a male flight attendant and pointed a pistol at the head of a stewardess, the captain refused to open the cockpit door under the threat of the hijacker, leaving the criminals helpless.

In the aspect of passenger and baggage safety inspection before boarding, Yihang has its own set of procedures. In short, it is a combination of technology and psychology.

According to Moses Cohen, a former aviation safety official and now head of an aviation safety consulting company in London, the scanner used by Israel Airlines was developed at a cost of millions of dollars. It can perform slice image processing on passenger luggage, similar to a brain slice imaging scanner. Cohen said airlines now use the same equipment, but in order to save time, they often don't do as much image processing on each piece of luggage as they do on Israel Airlines. In addition, airborne baggage and cargo must pass through the decompression chamber before they can be transported to the aircraft to minimize the possibility of a leaky bomb exploding in the air.

Advanced technology is important, but baggage inspection is the second priority in the security procedures of Israel Airlines, and "people" are their concern. Therefore, interview is considered to be an important part of aviation security inspection. Before the passengers arrived at the airport, the security personnel of Israel Airlines actually began to work. They need to check whether there is a name on the passenger list that has been blacklisted by the security department, when the ticket is booked and how it is paid. Then, an interviewer, usually an Israeli University student, asks each passenger questions: "Why go there?" "What to do?" "Where do you live?" "Do you know anyone there?" "Did you pack your baggage by yourself?" "Did anyone ask you to bring anything?" "Where do you put your luggage when you've packed it?" "What's your occupation?" Wait. The interviewer can decide whether your luggage needs to be further checked in addition to the scanner.

Such interviews rely more on the feelings of the interrogator than on the machine. After September 11, many aviation safety experts believed that the importance they attached to people could be used for reference in the security procedures of Israel Airlines. Philip Baum, editor of the Journal of Airline Safety, said: "We have become accustomed to technology dependence, but machines can never be human brains.  We need alert, trained professionals behind those scanners.

Despite its uniqueness, the high cost is its fatal disadvantage. According to reports, Air Israel spends about US$100 million annually on security checks, while Air Israel has always been a government-subsidized loss-making enterprise. The number of carriers per year of Air Israel is only equal to the number of carriers per two weeks of American Airlines. Therefore, it may be difficult to popularize and apply the experience of Air Israel worldwide.