Intersec Blog

Talking Airport Security Screening

Posted by Richard McKeon on Oct 25, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Tim Compston, Features Editor at Security News Desk and, interviews Cameron Mann, Global Market Director - Aviation - at Smiths Detection Group Ltd, regarding the challenges and trends for security screening at airports.


Tim Compston, Features Editor at Security News Desk and, interviews Cameron Mann, Global Market Director - Aviation - at Smiths Detection Group Ltd, regarding the challenges and trends for security screening at airports.


The first question I pose to Mann is how - given the spate of terrorist attacks in places like Brussels and Istanbul - are airport screening requirements changing? Are airports, for instance, looking to do more screening before or as passengers enter the main terminals? Mann responds by saying that the airport regulations presently in place cover today’s passengers entering airside space. He agrees that the emerging risk is landside, where the public at large remain unscreened: "Additional layers of security and screening could be adopted to provide effective measures to increase the safety and security of the travelling public, and protect the broader infrastructure and people that operate within this area. Enhancing the layered approach to security is undoubtedly becoming relevant to a growing number of airports across the world which are exposed to heightened terrorist risks."


Mobile matters

Touching on the subject of whether there are smaller units available that can be moved to the edge, temporarily, if there is a heightened threat level, Mann points out that, in fact, a mobile screening capability can easily be deployed: "Some airports are already making use of mobile X-Ray units and a variety of other measures. The layered approach to security allows the routes to the airport to become part of the solution e.g. technologies are available to screen vehicles and people as they are approaching the airport. Depending on the threat level this screening at the boundary can act as a visible deterrent as well as detecting threats to the airport before they reach the terminals."

Mann continues by emphasising that deploying continuous and random screening, and introducing spot checks prior to entering airside zones, provides additional and sensible layers of security whilst easing the associated permanent infrastructure cost.

Strong R&D focus

In terms of how screening technology has been improved to make it more accurate, efficient and intuitive, Mann is keen to underline the fact that Smiths Detection invests significantly in Research & Development (R&D) to develop advanced technologies: "Making sure that our products and associated software deliver the highest accuracy levels in threat detection. In addition, our product interfaces and accessories are improved through user feedback (both military and civil)," he says.

Recent contracts

Drilling down to specific airport contracts or projects that Smiths Detection has been involved in recently, Mann is keen to flag up a deal to supply next generation baggage screening technology to Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

Credits to: Joerg Huettenhoelscher / Shutterstock.comComplying with the latest EU Regulations – EDS Standard 3 - Mann says that the ‘next generation’ HI Scan 10080 XCT systems involved in the Berlin contract with the Procurement Agency of the Federal Ministry of the Interior are to provide hold baggage screening equipment for the German Federal Police. The HI Scan 10080 XCT systems employ high resolution x-ray technology, computed tomography and advanced detection algorithms to deliver, in Mann’s words, 'exceptional levels of security’. According to Mann they are not only able to detect the explosive threats currently specified by the new standard but, crucially, can be upgraded to meet future demands to identify additional threats such as homemade explosives. In addition to a high detection capability, the systems also operate with a very low false alarm rate – an important criterion for efficient operation.

Looking in more detail at the HI Scan 10080 XCT systems, they combine a very fast belt speed with what Smiths Detection claims is the largest rectangular tunnel size in the very competitive, high-speed EDS segment, to deliver a continuously high throughput of up to 1,800 bags per hour.  Extremely sharp, full colour, high resolution images also, the company says, help to streamline the overall inspection process. The contract covers eight HI-SCAN 10080 XCT systems with 30 image analysis stations. Also included in the order are six HI-SCAN 5180si models that are flexible enough to be used when needed as a back-up in different locations around the airport.

In terms of other new airport projects, Mann notes that Smiths Detection was also a key delivery partner at Bristol Airport’s new West Terminal extension, providing and installing the very latest screening technologies for the checkpoints there.

Smart technologies

Moving on to what the future holds for airport security, Mann believes that smart technologies and processes may, for example, allow passengers to walk through the checkpoint with the minimal removal of clothing, electronic devices, liquids, jewellery, keys or any other items from about their person or baggage: "For Smiths Detection, continuing algorithm development at the product level is aimed at making our products sensitive and specific, improving detection and false alarm performance," says Mann.

Mann concludes the interview by explaining that Smiths Detection is investing, significantly in what he refers to as ‘digital transformation’: "This is using applications such as networked devices, access control, biometrics and business intelligence linked through dedicated performance dashboards, to ensure that future security checks will be part of an integrated approach, both for passengers, the airport and regulators."


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