Following recent media reports, CAA assures the flying public that security screening in New Zealand is inherently safe. Balances and checks are in place within the system and come into play as in this case, when AvSec was able to effectively and seamlessly engage with other agencies, to check on a passenger who wilfully avoided screening.
Below is our media response on the incident that has received recent media coverage.
The passenger completed the first stage of security screening, which is to go through the walk-through metal detector. However, when directed to the AIT (body scanner) queue, the passenger appears to have deliberately evaded this part of the screening process. When the Aviation Security Officers (ASOs) working the screening point at that time realised this passenger had not completed AIT and had proceeded directly to board the flight, the team leader initiated our security procedure for these types of instances.
In this case, following procedure, the relevant organisations were notified including the airline carrier, and in Auckland - NZ Police and AvSec personnel. Because the passenger did not fully complete screening in Wellington, AvSec then searched the aircraft in Auckland once the passengers had disembarked. This was in order to ensure there were no weapons or threat items left on the aircraft so that we were satisfied with the security of the aircraft for future flights. The passenger was met by NZ Police when the aircraft landed in Auckland.
We have reviewed the CCTV footage of the incident and we are satisfied that the threat of the passenger concealing an item that could pose a threat to aviation safety was low. The walk-through metal detector does activate when any passenger who has not divested their person of all metal objects and this passenger was visibly wearing items that would have set off the detector.
Any breaches at screening points are taken very seriously. We are reviewing the incident and ascertaining if we need to:
Under Section 85 of the Civil Aviation Act, ASOs have the powers to act in an appropriate way for the circumstances. Section 85 is explained here: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1990/0098/latest/DLM217807.html?search=sw_096be8ed81cecef9_85_25_se&p=1&sr=1(external link)
We have protocols in place to respond to these security incidents, the process being that we would notify the airline of the incident and then the airline notifies the flight crew if they believe this is warranted. This is a well-worked and documented response and is not something we are looking at amending while the incident is currently being investigated.