UN issues guidelines to thwart terrorists from blowing up planes with carry-on liquids

UN issues guidelines to thwart terrorists from blowing up planes with carry-on liquids

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Seeking to thwart terrorist plots to blow up airliners, the United Nations aviation agency has issued new interim security control guidelines for screening potentially dangerous items in hand luggage, including liquid, gels and aerosols that may be used in improvised explosive devices on board an aircraft.

The steps, adopted by the Council of the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) following a thwarted terrorist plot in August in the United Kingdom to blow up some 10 trans-Atlantic flights, restrict liquids to containers no greater than 100 millilitres placed in a transparent re-sealable 1-litre-capacity plastic bag which should be completely closed.

Only one bag per passenger would be permitted, but exemptions would be made for medications, baby milk/foods and special dietary requirements.

“Success in mitigating and eliminating all threats to civil aviation can only be achieved through the concerted effort of everyone concerned and a close working relationship between national agencies and aviation security regulators of all Contracting States,” ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh González said of the guidelines published yesterday.

“We must continually monitor and reassess the worldwide security regime to ensure that it is effective, practicable and sustainable, and that it takes into account the best practices of States and other stakeholders,” he added.

The ICAO Council suggested that its 189 Contracting States, who are responsible for establishing their own lists of prohibited items based on ICAO guidance to ensure global harmonization, may also wish to consider the exemption of liquids purchased either at airport duty free shops or on board aircraft.

They would have to be packed in a sealed plastic bag that is both tamper-evident and displays satisfactory proof of purchase at airport duty free shops, or on board aircraft, on the day of the journey for both departing and transfer passengers.

To facilitate screening and avoid a cluttered x-ray image, the guidelines recommend that plastic bags holding liquid containers be presented apart from other cabin baggage, coats and jackets or laptops for separate x-ray screening. The recommendations are to be implemented no later than 1 March 2007.

ICAO’s aviation security panel will continue revising the recommended overall list of prohibited items for Council review in June. An ICAO group of specialists is working on the development of technologies for detecting liquids, gels or aerosols with certain physical properties that could be used in explosive devices.