Secure Show Bristles with New Generation Security Hardware

 - May 6, 2008, 4:18 AM

As an ostentatious display of western military might, Farnborough 2002 was viewed as a high-profile terrorist target. Organizers were forced to impose a tight security cordon around the site and the event also featured much of the new-generation security technology that has come to the fore in the wake of September 11. New off-site parking arrangements and screening of cars and visitors undoubtedly worsened delays on the first couple of trade days, but for the most part showgoers had planned for this and accepted it stoically.

Smiths Aerospace let local police use its new Sentinel II walkthrough explosives detection device to keep bombs and firearms off the site. The equipment sniffed visitors, processing up to seven people per minute.

Puffs of air are discharged from tubes to dislodge any particles of explosives from skin or clothing. The device’s sensors analyze the air around the visitor and indicate whether any explosives are present with a red light. A green light indicates that nothing has been found.

ATR unveiled a new terrorist-proof cockpit door at the show. The door designed for both the 38-seat ATR 42 and the 68-seat ATR 72 costs between $18,500 and $32,000 per aircraft, depending on whether operators require a video camera for crew to identify people wanting to access the cockpit.

The proposed cockpit door security system advocated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) calls for crew to be able to make positive identification of people seeking entry to the cockpit using a video camera and display. This mode of identification and the subsequent door release can be made without pilots leaving their seats. The FAA mandate also requires positive identification but allows this to be done using a much less costly peephole in the door, with the video alternative being optional. Either way, a manual door entry system serves as a back- up in case the electronic control fails.

In the event of crewmembers being incapacitated, flight attendants can gain emergency access to the cockpit by using a push-button command on the cabin-side of the door, which gives delayed entry if no response is received from the entry request. If terrorists attempt to get into the cockpit this way when the crew are not incapacitated, the pilots can simply override the delayed entry mechanism to lock the door until the aircraft lands.

The new ATR doors have been built by French company Simair and can resist both 9 mm and .44 Magnum bullets. They have also been tested to resist the impact of a cabin trolley being rammed against them with the force of several hijackers.

The doors add about 30 lb to the French-Italian twin turboprops and are fitted in exactly the same location. The installation work can be completed during an overnight stop by an airline’s own mechanics. To date, ATR has received orders for more than 170 modifications, the most recent having come from American Eagle Airlines on the eve of the Farnborough show.

Goodrich’s booth featured the new cockpit door video surveillance system that has been accepted as standard equipment on all Airbus aircraft. The Goodrich Sensor Systems package uses three cameras, one looking aft and the other two facing sideways into the forward galley area. Pilots can switch between the aft-looking view and a split screen showing the images from the two side-facing cameras. An infrared light source makes surveillance possible even in 0.0-lux lighting conditions.

Rockwell Collins exhibited its new video intelligence system which encompasses four cameras, handheld displays, communications devices and a personal digital assistant. In recently begun trials on United Airlines jets, the cameras will be strategically located around the cabin to monitor the cockpit door and passenger compartment from different angles. Other Collins security products showcased at Farnborough included a device that prevents transponders being switched off and continuous flight monitoring for airline operations personnel.

Alcoa introduced a blast-resistant cargo container to its Fortress range of products, which started with an armored cockpit door that is currently being certified. Both products have drawn on the aluminum armor expertise that the firm developed on military programs, such as the Bradley tank, and feature Kevlar linings to trap bullets and other fragments.