President's Column

It was my intention to start 2015 with an optimistic view on this year, as we expect a number of important decisions for the airline industry to be taken. Flags of convenience, fair competition, pilot training and aviation safety legislation are only some of the points we have on our To-Do list for this year. But the recent events in France unfortunately make it necessary to talk – once again – about security in our industry.

After the tragic days in Paris that shocked the whole continent, we need to take a critical and proactive look at the security environment we operate our aircrafts in. It is therefore helpful that ECA just released its comprehensive “Secure Skies” brochure, in which we outline the security challenges for our industry and the responses to give – both at European level and globally. “Secure Skies” was produced by the experts in our ECA Security working group under the leadership of my predecessor Nico Voorbach, who himself is a security specialist. You will find this brochure on our website

Although the technical and organisational possibilities have improved throughout the industry, the way we provide secure skies has hardly changed in the last decade. We still use the same tools, we still apply the same rules, we still rely on the same people, and add one security measure on top of the other, instead of taking a comprehensive and predictive approach. Some elements changed a little here and there, some new rules were adopted. But in the time to come, with the forecasted average growth of five percent per year in passenger numbers, this system won’t be appropriate anymore in the near future. A quote from an interview with the president of a police officers’ union in a European country says it all: “We have to stop organising aviation security like a party service by private companies, with the same product for everybody!”

Our passengers can be assured that we as pilots take every necessary step to deliver a secure and safe product. But we need European decision makers to take some important steps in the right direction. When the threats change the reactions need to follow – or even better: anticipate them through a comprehensive security management approach, involving all elements of the security chain. From my point of view the threats are about to change – and our tools and approaches need to change too!