Evolution of Aviation Security in Canada since 1985

Among the lessons learned from the Air India tragedy is that Canada’s aviation security program must be vigilant and flexible, cognizant of past events, responsive to current issues, and anticipate and plan for new and different challenges.

Immediate Response:
In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, Transport Canada directed all carriers to amend their security programs to provide for enhanced screening of passengers and carry-on baggage, physical inspection of all checked baggage on international flights and a 24-hour hold on air cargo.

Seaborn Report:
The Government subsequently conducted a practical review of aviation and airport security, which recommendations led to sweeping and important changes in practice and policy, putting Canada at the forefront on aviation security by international standards. By 1986, Canada had become the first International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member to require Passenger-baggage reconciliation for international flights. The requirement was extended to all flights on October 1st, 2001.

Aerodrome Restricted Area Access Clearance Program:
In 1987, the Aerodrome Restricted Area Access Clearance Program (ARAACP) was adopted, requiring airport restricted area pass holders at the international and major domestic airports to undergo a security clearance process. The ARAACP involved background checks for airport workers, including scrutiny of the individual’s criminal background if any.

Airport Divestiture and Aviation Security Regulatory Framework Review:
As the role of the department vis-à-vis airports evolved from owner/operator, to landlord, policy maker and regulator during the 90’s, Transport Canada undertook a comprehensive regulatory review to better align it with threat and risk in the context of commercialisation. As part of this phase, Transport Canada developed and implemented comprehensive airport policing requirements applicable to airport operators, following the withdrawal of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) protective policing resources from airports. The new regulatory framework for airport policing assured that local police, under contract to airport authorities, provide necessary police services.

Creation of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA)
The centerpiece of the government’s response to 911 was the creation of a new Crown Corporation - the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) - to act as the sole screening authority in Canada. The December 2001 Budget allocated $2.2 billion in support of aviation security initiatives. A new Air Travellers Security Charge was introduced as the source of funds for this commitment. With the creation of CATSA, the Government of Canada assumed a more direct role in airport screening, which had previously been the responsibility of air carriers. Budget 2010 announced stable long-term funding for CATSA of $1.5 billion over five years.

Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program:
In 2002, the Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program (CACPP) was introduced. Administered by CATSA at the time (now under the RCMP), the program involves placing In-Flight Security Officers (IFSO) onboard selected flights of Canadian-registered commercial aircraft to protect against unauthorized persons seizing control of an aircraft.

Non-Passenger Screening and Restricted Area Identity Card:
In November 2002, the Minister asked CATSA to take additional responsibilities for the screening of non-passengers and the administration of the Restricted Area Identity Card (RAIC) . The Non Passenger Screening (NPS) program, which focuses on the random selection of airport employees, flight crews, construction personnel and other non-passengers who enter airport restricted areas, has been implemented at Canada’s 28 major airports since February 2004. The RAIC was the first dual biometric—iris and fingerprint—identification system used for non-passengers in an airport environment anywhere in the world, and constitutes a significant enhancement to Canada’s aviation security system. The program was fully deployed at Canada’s 28 major airports as of January 2007.

Airport Policing Contribution Program:
While airport authorities continue to be responsible for contracting for policing services, Canada established the Airport Policing Contribution Program (APCP) in 2002 with an annual funding envelope of $15.6 million to contribute to the heightened cost of security-related policing at designated airports as a result of 911. The program was transferred to Transport Canada as of April 1, 2008 and has been phased out for certain recipients as per Budget 2009 announcements.

Public Safety Act, 2002:
The passing of the Public Safety Act, 2002 in May 2004 enhanced aviation security by improving the Government’s capacity to prevent terrorist attacks, protect citizens and respond quickly should a threat be identified. Key highlights related to the Aeronautics Act include allowing for the issuance of interim orders in the case of emergency situations where immediate action is required, allowing the collection of passenger information, and clarifying and updating existing aviation security authorities.

Hold Baggage Screening:
By January 2006, CATSA had completed full deployment of Hold Baggage Screening (HBS) system at all 89 airports where it operates. The completion of this program ensured that all checked baggage on transborder, international and domestic flights are screened for explosives.

Air Cargo Security Program:
Between 2006 and 2009, Transport Canada designed and tested various components of an enhanced Air Cargo Security Program (ACSP) that will strengthen air cargo security and the secure supply chain and meet the highest standards in the world. Budget 2010 allocated $95.7 million over five years to enhance the program.

Passenger Protect Program:
In June 2007, Transport Canada introduced the Passenger Protect Program to keep people who may pose an immediate security threat from boarding commercial flights. Under the program, the Government of Canada maintains a Specified Persons List and provides it to air carriers in secure form. Air carriers must screen all passengers for flights to, from or within Canada against this list.

Date modified: