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Singapore: “Safe and secure” air travel must be given top priority

With terrorism sowing fear to air passengers across the globe, more emphasis must be placed on ensuring “safe and secure” air travel for passengers, said Singapore’s Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng.

Aviation security has to be given top billing even as the aviation sector prepares for growth with Airbus and Boeing forecasting a 4% rise each year in air traffic.

“We will have to pay much more attention to aviation security. We need to increase our capabilities to ensure safe and secure air travel for passengers, even as we facilitate aviation growth”, said Ng at the opening of the World Civil Aviation Chief Executives Forum.

Taking note that human capital development and knowledge sharing will be crucial, he pointed to Singapore’s pact with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on collaboration in leadership and management training, which will include aviation safety and security training.

The aviation security program will provide aviation leaders with cutting-edge developments on the international civil aviation security framework and its underlying principles, to effectively manage aviation security. The program will be held all over the world from 2018 to 2020.

Separately, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore also signed an agreement with the Singapore University of Technology and Design to work together and engage in the areas of aviation research, innovation and talent development.

Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the Council of ICAO, said global efforts to harmonize the new security thrust are ongoing.

The organization’s new global aviation security plan was endorsed by the ICAO Council last month, and is being circulated among member states for comments, he said.

ICAO will meet for its inaugural Aviation Security Symposium in September, which will make member states “more connected and integrated as a global network than ever before”, said Aliu.

Commenting on ICAO’s stand on the restrictions on the carriage of laptops and other portable electronic devices into aircraft, Aliu quipped: “Our guiding priority in this area is … to ensure that all related security and safety risks are fully considered and prudently balanced.

“We have established a multi-disciplinary cargo safety group to undertake an in-depth analysis and the latest findings will be presented to the ICAO Council at its 212th session this autumn”, Aliu mentioned.

Addressing threats to aviation’s cybersecurity weaknesses, Aliu said a joint declaration was produced at ICAO’s first Cyber Summit and Exhibition at Dubai in April.

Efforts to come up with an “effective and collaborative” global cyber security response to “protect networks, infrastructure and customers” will be enhanced when the new system-wide information management provisions come into force next year, Aliu added.

Building on global strategic partnerships, Aliu stressed that the organization’s “No Country Left Behind” initiative is central to ICAO’s efforts aimed at capacity building globally. It assumes significance as less regulated or developed countries could turn out be weak links and easy targets for terrorists and cyber criminals.

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