Presidential Commission questions security lapses at SriLankan Airlines

ECONOMYNEXT- Two explosives detectors operating at the cargo arm of SriLankan Airlines since 2016 are low-cost machines with expired certification and field tests failures, although security has so far not been compromised, a witness said at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating irregularities at the national carrier

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Director P. A. Jayakantha said that SriLankan Cargo had installed and operated the two explosives trace detectors (ETDs) prior to CAA certification, which was against national regulations.

He said that according to International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations, all security machines should be approved by the Transportation Security Administration of the US and the Department for Transport in the UK.

During the two-step approval process, the two organisations first place machines which have suitable technology in an ‘Approved List’.

States have been advised to purchase from the Approved List at their own risk, Jayakantha said.

Secondly, the machines are field tested for their reliability, and those which pass, are placed in a ‘Qualified List’ and those that fail are placed in a ‘Grandfather List’.

Jayakantha said that countries have been advised not to purchase any machines in the Grandfather list. Manufacturers reduce prices of equipment in the Grandfather List, he said.

However, the two ETDs SriLankan purchased were in the Grandfather list, Jayakantha said.

Deputy Solicitor General Shanaka Wijesinghe said that SriLankan had operated the ETDs for 6 months prior to seeking certification from CAA, which was received in February 2017.

Jayakantha said that the CAA had given a one-year certification for the equipment, since they were in the Grandfather List. He said that the scanners would expire from the Grandfather List to become obsolete by February 2019, after which certification is impossible.





However, he said that following the expiry of CAA certification in February 2018, SriLankan had not sought recertification, and continues to use the ETDs.

Commission Chairman Anil Gunaratne questioned Jayakantha whether the situation has compromised security at the Katunayake Airport.

Jayakantha said that CAA inspectors maintain regular surveillance on the scanners, and that he is satisfied with the operation of the scanners.

Similar to the two ETDs, three x-ray machines were also installed by SriLankan and used prior to seeking CAA certification in 2016 contrary to regulations, Jayakantha said. However, there was no issue with the certification of the x-rays, he said. (COLOMBO, 26 July, 2018)


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