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Feature Story

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) unveiled the first mock-up of an airport checkpoint of the future, designed to enhance security while reducing lines and intrusive searches. The prototype is the latest brainchild the influential trade group that has helped reshaped the airline industry.

A vision for aviation's future (Video)

Imagine being able to walk through airport security without having to remove half of your outfit, take out your laptop and liquids and then go through an invasive pat down.

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IATA

IATA's prototype for the airport checkpoint of the future foresees screening technology that will allow passengers to walk through the checkpoint without having to remove clothes or unpack their belongings.

That's part of the vision from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which unveiled a prototype of the "Checkpoint of the Future" at its annual meeting in Singapore.

"We spend $7.4 billion a year to keep aviation secure. But our passengers only see hassle," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. "Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity. That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping."

Passengers approaching the checkpoint would be directed to one of three lanes, based on a biometric identifier in the passport or other travel document that triggers the results of a risk assessment.

"We need policy decisions that replace intervention with commercial freedom." Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO, IATA

Screening technology, under development, will then allow passengers to walk through the checkpoint without having to remove clothes or unpack their belongings.

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Boeing/Eric Olson

To simplify the airline business, IATA led the effort to move all carriers to use electronic ticketing. IATA says eliminating paper airplane tickets has saved airlines billions of dollars while saving travelers time and hassles.

This is the latest example of how IATA, an influential trade group, advocates for the interests of its 230 airline members around the world.

"IATA is representing more than 90% of the industry and we are able, together with IATA, to set standards," said Peter Hartman, Chairman and CEO of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

"You know IATA has a unique platform. It has an opportunity to make sure that the issues that affect our long-term competitiveness as an industry are addressed," said Marlin Dailey, Boeing vice president of sales and marketing.

"You know IATA has a unique platform. It has an opportunity to make sure that the issues that affect our long-term competitiveness as an industry are addressed." Marlin Dailey, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Boeing

At its annual conference in June, IATA's colorful leader Giovanni Bisignani called on the industry to address pressing issues like airport security and infrastructure. To handle the expected growth in air traffic, Bisignani also called on oil companies to commit to sustainable biofuels, while cautioning governments on the impact of stifling taxes.

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Boeing

IATA required its membership, some 230 airlines around the world, to perform safety audits that have brought accident rates to historic lows. In 2010, IATA members had an accident rate of just 1 western-built hull loss for every 4 million flights.

"We need policy decisions that replace intervention with commercial freedom," said Bisignani

Over the past decade, IATA's initiatives have helped reshape the airline industry and improve the passenger experience.

For example, the next time you check in electronically at the airport, think of IATA. The group led the effort to eliminate those old, costly paper tickets. Now, the entire industry uses e-ticketing, saving time and billions of dollars. Airline executives say IATA was the catalyst."

"Unless everybody does it, it doesn't have the value because you can not get rid of paper unless you get rid of all paper. And IATA did a great job of making that happen," said Tony Tyler, former CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways. Tyler assumes the role of IATA's Director General and CEO when Bisignani steps down at the end of June.

Tyler says IATA's mission should be to continue making the world a better place for airlines to do business, including improving airport security.

"I'm committed to doing it. And I think it will be a huge benefit to the travelling community and the airline community if we can make that work," said Tyler.