A little over 40 per cent of security personnel posted at airports across the country, who are supposed to detect explosives and suspicious objects in the hand baggage of passengers, fail to do their job, a test conducted by the country’s aviation security regulator, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), has found.
The X-ray screening tests — both theory and practical — have to be taken by all personnel involved with airport security, including private airline employees, airport operators and CISF personnel. Held in phases at regular intervals, these are meant to check preparedness of security personnel in view of renewed threat perceptions and to make them aware of the changing pattern of IEDs and other explosives.
Out of 370 people who took the tests in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, 154 failed. Those who fail are immediately removed from security duties.
Among Air India personnel employed in security duties in Delhi, Leh and Srinagar airports, 20 of the 40 who took the tests failed, including some senior employees. The figures were more grim for the Kolkata sector, where only eight of the 40 security agents of Air India passed.
Among the 40 employees of private airlines who took the tests in Delhi, half failed. These included security agents of Jet Airways, Indigo, Go Air and a few employees of airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited.
“We cannot take any risk when it comes to airport or airline security. Even 1 per cent negligence is not acceptable. We conduct tests to find out the drawbacks of the people involved and accordingly we send them for refresher courses. Any kind of explosives or suspicious objects are passed through X-ray screeners and candidates have to detect them,” said a senior official.
While a score of almost 90 per cent is needed to pass the tests, an official said this had to be kept high as the window for error on security was very narrow. According to him, what was worrying was that “many people fail the practical tests”. “There are 3,000 images that a candidate has to identify.”
Apart from the X-ray screening tests, the BCAS also conducts a Basic Aviation Security Course, framed on the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.