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Aviation Safety Finds New Business

October 18, 2001

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ATLANTA (AP) _ Cost is no longer the first thing clients ask about when they call Tim Schnabel’s company, one of many demonstrating high-tech hardware this week at an airport security symposium.

The Sept. 11 attacks gave new significance to the three-day International Air Transport Association meeting, which was planned for months before the attacks. Inquiries in recent weeks have been ``absolutely massive,″ said Schnabel, sales director of Thales, a company that installs video cameras that help pilots monitor passenger cabins.

``This is just a rearview mirror for the pilot, for lack of a better term,″ Schnabel said Wednesday.

Fears about safety have caused passenger traffic to decrease since the attacks, and the association predicts global airline losses for 2001 to top $7 billion, more than double the already dismal estimate before Sept. 11.

Association members hope security measures like iris scanners and facial geometry recognition systems can restore the public’s confidence in air safety. They also want safety measures that won’t inconvenience passengers.

``We have to streamline it to the point that it’s not a hassle, that’s the challenge,″ said former Air Canada President Pierre Jeanniot, the association’s director general.

Jeanniot said the association is pushing for more uniform security standards across national boundaries, and hopes the United States will federalize airport security functions, as many European countries have. The issue has become a source of conflict among lawmakers split on whether private enterprise should continue to handle security.

Many airlines aren’t yet ready to buy new security equipment because they aren’t sure what new security standards will require, said Karen Mulherin of NexWatch, which installs cargo and airplane surveillance cameras.

``The problem we’re seeing is that nobody knows what they want to do _ they want the FAA to tell them what to do,″ Mulherin said. ``They don’t want to end up spending the money and then have it all be for nothing.″


On the Net:

International Air Transport Association: http://www.iata.org

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