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Fmr. CEO of American Airlines Calls Full-Body Scanners in Airports a ‘Waste of Resources’

Fox News
Friday, January 8th, 2010

This is a rush transcript from “Your World With Neil Cavuto,” January 6, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Authorities in Dublin are trying to get to the bottom of an incident in which live explosives made it on to a passenger plane. Have you heard about this? Only, this really wasn’t about terrorism. Get this. This was actually a security test.

Apparently, a passenger unwittingly carried real bomb parts in his luggage from a flight from Slovakia — the pilot deciding to fly even after being told an explosive was in the checked luggage. Generally, that is not good. The incident comes as the president prepares to release a review of airline security tomorrow. But will that review go far enough?

Exclusive reaction now from airline industry legend Bob Crandall, the former CEO of AMR, the parent of American Airlines.

Robert, good to have you. Happy new year.

ROBERT CRANDALL, FORMER CEO, AMR CORPORATION: Hi, Neil. How are you?

CAVUTO: Very good.

What do you make, first off, of this airport incident in Ireland? I mean, we have seen a lot of this kind of stuff going on lately. Do you feel safe flying?

CRANDALL: Oh, I feel safe enough, Neil.

TuneUp Utilities 2010

But I just think we’re doing lots of things wrong. Maybe the first thing we’re doing wrong is, we’re paying way too much attention to the things that go on an airplane, and we’re not paying not nearly enough attention to the people.

We’re not executing well. We’re not differentiating between low-risk and high-risk, and we’re not using technology very effectively. And for all those reasons, the system isn’t nearly as good as it should be and could be.

CAVUTO: Still, I guess the latest salvation for us are these so- called body scanners that show you in your complete birthday suit and all of that. And that seems to be the solution for a lot of folks.

CRANDALL: No. Well, I think…

CAVUTO: What do you think of that?

CRANDALL: I think, look, the body scanners, in the first place, you can’t use today’s body scanners, because they take 40 to 50 seconds per person. There aren’t enough body scanners. And if you tried to body scan everybody, you would simply diminish the ability of the airline system to operate.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with body scanners.

CAVUTO: We should say that the scanner’s maker says that that figure’s overstated. It would add at best a half-a-minute. But you’re quite right.

CRANDALL: Well…

CAVUTO: If you add all of that together times the number of people waiting, it’s substantial.

But continue.

CRANDALL: Well, but the real — I think the real issue, Neil, is this. Most of the people that go through security don’t need a full body scan.

Certainly, if we had a trusted traveler program, where people had been with a — had been — gotten a thorough examination, a background check before they got to the airport, we don’t need to put those people through a body scanner.

What we need to do is, we need to differentiate between those people who are a risk and those people who are unlikely to be a risk. Let’s put the high-risk people through the body scanners. That — now we will have enough body scanners, and, in fact, we will have enough much more expensive body scanners.

You know, a body scanner is about $150,000. An X-ray machine is about $10,000. You’re not going to use — you cannot useful full body scanning on everything. And doing so is silly. It’s just a waste of resources and a waste of money.

If you look what the Israelis do, the Israelis use layered security, four or five layers of security, all of it focused on the people, not on the things. And they use technology. For example, if they see a bag that might have a bomb in it, they put it in a bomb box.

If in fact they spot a bag at the ticket counter that might have a bomb in it, they’re encapsulated within an area. They don’t have to evacuate the whole terminal, the way we did at Newark the other day.

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