In a development that has serious portent for aviation security in India, almost three-fourths of airline and CISF personnel flunked a basic test conducted by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) last month.
The Basic Aviation Security Course, organised by BCAS between January 8 and 21 in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, saw 248 of the 353 people or over 70 per cent, failing in it.
Only 105 passed, but that too with a majority of them just getting above the pass marks, the data showed.
Successful completion of the course enables the candidate to be eligible for posting on security duties at an airport. The duties include securing the entry and exit gates, handling online baggage checking system, conducting X-Ray of handheld baggage, frisking and manning the boarding gates.
The candidates, who appeared in these tests, were those belonging to the CISF and its Airport Security Units in Kerala, along with airlines like IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Air India Air Transport Services Limited that carries out ground handling services.
The results for the test carried out in Delhi reflected the poorest performance with 97 of the 103 candidates appearing in it, failing. In Chennai, 116 out of a total of 183 failed, while in Mumbai, the number of failures was 35 out of 67 candidates.
Expressing concern over the situation, sources said the huge growth in air travel has made every airport a potential terror target where intense security is an absolute requirement. Over 600 million people fly each year, not to mention the millions bags which they carry.
Airports and the aviation industry require specialised security solutions in the current situation of elevated threat levels, the sources said.
They said that identification of suspicious activity among passengers, staff and vehicles, in and around the airports, was absolutely imperative, they said.
With over 95 airports being operational in India, CISF mans 59 of them with over 20,000 personnel. The remaining airports are manned by state police personnel, with CRPF support in some of them.
Government has accepted the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation for creation of a dedicated Aviation Security Force (ASF).
Such specialised forces carry out aviation security responsibilities at airports in many countries including the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
There are plans for deployment of trained ASF personnel, replacing CISF, in a phased manner within five years.