India and the United States are close to signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on having sky marshals on board on flights between the two countries.
The MoU, sources said, could be signed on Wednesday when the Joint Working Group on Aviation Security meets. India will also take up the issue of frisking of former president APJ Abdul Kalam by officials of American airliner Continental Airlines last April.
A sky marshal (also known as air marshal or flight marshal) is in an undercover agent on board a commercial aircraft to counter a hijacking.
“The draft is ready and the agreement is expected to be signed on Wednesday. At present there is an informal arrangement between the two countries whereby the other side is informed in advance whenever a sky marshal is on board. An MoU, which is legal document, will formalise the arrangement for future,” an official said.
On the Kalam incident officials said they would make it clear to US authorities that “the security exercise should not be extended to people who are exempt under the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) circular”.
Continental Airlines had said at that time that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements impose a final security check in the aerobridge just before boarding the aircraft.
“When in India, we are the boss and foreign airlines need to follow the guidelines laid down by the BCAS. When we extend them similar facilities they need to reciprocate. They have to fall in line. There can be exception and no there is no question of dictating terms to us,” an official said.
Kalam had been frisked at the entrance to the aerobridge.