Conference calls for better aviation security

Aviation experts meet in Abu Dhabi to discuss better screening procedures and communication to identify security threats.

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ABU DHABI // Improved screening procedures and better communication to identify potential security threats were the focus on the first day of the UAE's Regional Civil Aviation Security Conference. Janet Napolitano, the US secretary of homeland security, who delivered the keynote speech, focused on the December 25 attempted bombing on board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, reportedly stitched plastic explosives into his underwear. Ms Napolitano said the incident "served as a catalyst for all to revisit the issue of civil aviation and security". The UAE is the Middle East's largest international transit hub, according to the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), and could become susceptible to similar attacks unless security issues are addressed. Sultan bin Saeed al Mansouri, the GCAA Chairman and Minister of Economy, said there was need for an international dialogue to prevent future aviation security breaches around the world. "There is extraordinary growth in the aviation sector within the Middle East and that is reflected through the numerous new terminals being built and aircraft purchased," Mr al Mansouri said. "It is therefore most important that security features be incorporated into the design of these terminals and extensions to existing facilities to ensure inclusions designed to meet present and future threats." The conference, which also included members of the Ministry of Interior's airport security department and the GCAA's department of aviation and security infrastructure, concludes tomorrow. An Abu Dhabi Joint Declaration on Civil Aviation Security is expected to be adopted by Middle Eastern states during the second day of the conference tomorrow.