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SAFETY & SECURITY Last modified on August 24, 2017

Spotlight on security

Cameron Mann, Smith Detection’s global marketing director for aviation, talks to Airport World about some of key security challenges and opportunities facing airports today.

Will banning laptops and mobile devices from aircraft cabins make flights safer?

This electronics ban dealt with a specific threat – that of the use of large electronic devices to conceal a range of potential explosive devices – by avoiding related risk. But there have now been concerns raised by safety and other authorities about the increased fire risk from electronic devices stored in the hold. We are anticipating risk assessments by a range of safety and other authorities to determine the future of the electronics ban – and whether a technical screening solution is more appropriate.

How close are we to adopting technology that finally means that there is no longer any need to remove LAGs from your hand luggage?

Very close! Passengers will be able to leave liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) in cabin baggage when it has been screened with EDS CB C3 certified equipment. Two Smiths Detection machines have already achieved C2 certification (for automated solid and liquid explosives detection) and we are confident that we will secure C3 certification by the end of the year.

To achieve this level of automated detection, conventional X-ray equipment will be completely replaced by a new generation of systems that marry cutting edge X-ray technology with computer tomography (CT). For airports, compliant equipment will improve detection rates and save time and money by reducing the number of required secondary checks.

The improvements in screening efficiency will also mean that fewer staff will be needed to cope with growing passenger numbers. This will increase staff productivity and lower screening cost per head. Control of this process can be even further improved through system networking, effective connectivity and remote screening. For passengers this will be the start of a smoother journey than they have experienced for many years.

What will the security checkpoint of tomorrow look like?

The security checkpoint of tomorrow will be fluid and unobtrusive. It will marry minimum disruption to passengers on their journey through the airport while maintaining the required level of security. This will require sensitive and specific detection technologies with low false alarm rates to enable the screening of passengers while they are moving.

It is likely that screening will make more use of passenger data, including biometrics, to support a dynamic risk-based approach to the security screening process for passengers, their bags and staff in the airport. This will be part of an integrated approach to how information is utilised across the different security layers and could also be used to add a personalised dimension to their journey.

What lessons have we learnt from the terrorist attacks on Brussels and Istanbul Atatürk airports?

That there is more work to be done to support the development of security plans to deal with heightened threats to landside operations. These solutions are not about creating a fortress. Instead it should be about building multi-dimensional layers of security that leverages on people, processes and technology. No single element addresses all the risks and it is only when these elements are considered in an integrated approach will the benefits be realised.

Can security screening ever be passenger friendly?

Yes, absolutely! This is our business. This can be achieved through a combination of class-leading technology and high levels of training for security teams. Well-designed checkpoints, staffed by well-trained and motivated teams, rapidly reduce queues; this ensures a good passenger experience. Operational improvements also boost staff productivity, reducing the screening cost per passenger head.

Happy passengers bring a wealth of benefits to airport operators, including a 1% rise in customer service levels, which typically delivers a 1.5% boost to airport revenue.

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