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Authorities call for tighter airport security

FOCA officials smuggled a fake bomb on to a plane in an in-flight catering container

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss authorities have ordered airlines and in-flight catering companies operating from the country’s international airports to overhaul their security policies.

The move comes less than three months after the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) discovered serious security lapses at Zurich airport.

At the end of May undercover FOCA officials succeeded in smuggling a fake bomb on to a plane by hiding it in a catering container waiting to be transported on board.

Similar security tests were conducted simultaneously at Geneva airport.

Emergency measures

Revelations in the national press that airport staff had failed to discover the fake device prompted the FOCA to issue emergency instructions to airlines and in-flight catering companies to review their security procedures.

On Friday the FOCA said that initial steps had already been taken to improve security, but that more needed to be done over the next few months.

It said that all necessary “additional measures” had to be in place by the beginning of December.

“After this time, the FOCA will examine the measures that have been taken to determine whether they are sufficient and will then verify whether they are being put into practice by means of inspections,” the office said in a statement.

Restructuring

Last month the FOCA announced a radical shake-up in its organisational structure in an effort to improve safety in the skies and on the ground.

The restructuring came in the wake of an independent report into aviation security which concluded that safety levels in Switzerland were in decline at the same time as they were improving in other parts of Europe.

The aviation office’s security and policy units are to be separated, while the security section will be split into three subdivisions: technical, flight operations and infrastructure.

In February parliament approved the hiring of an extra 60 members of staff at the FOCA. Of the 230 experts at the office, 150 are expected to work in the security domain.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The security review comes in the wake of an undercover investigation by Swiss aviation safety officials who were able to smuggle a fake bomb on board a plane at Zurich airport.

The Federal Office for Civil Aviation has ordered airlines and in-flight caterers to carry out a comprehensive review of their security policies by the beginning of December.

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