Hurghada International Airport in Egypt has been visited by a UK-based aviation security team as a part of the agreement to secure Egyptian airports between the Aviation Ministry and the Control Risks Company to assess and develop recommendations and proposals.
The company will train aviation security personnel in the latest systems for enhancing border security control, following last year’s attacks on the country’s aviation industry.
The visit from the UK team is the first step in the agreement, and the proposals will arise later in the year to highlight measures that need to be strengthened. The agreement is the way forward for Egypt, whose tourist industry accounts for a large portion of the national economy.
Aviation security providers around the world are continuously improving the way security is managed in airports, using the latest technology.
The Ministry of Transport in Oman has given to go-ahead for the installation of a new integrated security system for two of the country’s airports. Muscat International Airport and the new Salalah Airport will receive a new state-of-the-art, comprehensive system to include perimeter security intrusion detection, security check points and access control, overseen by a new data management centre.
The contact has been awarded to Thales, French technology firm, who will also be responsible for training and testing as part of the deal agreed this week.
Airports across the world are stepping up their security as the threat of terrorism and smuggling increases. Airport security providers are using the latest technology to develop powerful, high performance systems to strengthen border security.
AVSEC, this year’s IXG aviation security conference will be held in Dubai over two days – 16th and 17th September – and will discuss the latest security needs and requirements of the aviation industry in an exploration of how technology today can enhance the industry’s ability to meet the growing challenges in this sector.
Key topics will include an assessment of ‘new and evolving threats to civil aviation’, developments in technology, cyber security, emergency response and crisis management, ways to maintain a motivated security workforce and, perhaps most importantly for some, passenger processing and handling in a discussion entitled ‘Integrated Design for Aviation Security Systems’.
Throughout the world, aviation security systems are becoming increasingly automated, and there is a growing demand within the security sector for additional physical security equipment and systems to cope with the growth in passenger numbers. Providers of physical security systems for aviation are under pressure to provide systems integrating physical and cyber security measures for comprehensive protection against the threat of attack.
Keeping airport perimeter security tight is a problem that is consistently rearing its head, particularly as security technology companies come up with more advanced sensors, software and motion detection solutions that the ‘men on the ground’ maintain are still not enough.
The high cost of advanced detection technology often prices smaller airports out of this market, but when faced with 268 counts of perimeter breach in US airports in ten years, the issue is clearly a critical one.
Airport perimeter security breaches consist primarily of people climbing over, crawling under or even driving vehicles through the fences that surround the airport. It is the airport’s responsibility to protect the perimeters, while the TSA handle the passenger and baggage screening.
Government officials are raising concerns over perimeter breaches and calling for upgrades to security equipment to reduce the risks. Congressman Eric Swalwell said, “Porous airport perimeters are major vulnerabilities that terrorists could exploit. I’m continuing to call for airports to use technologies that would alert officials the moment a perimeter is breached.”
As every airport differs in their surroundings, there is no single answer to increase security around airport perimeters. Many airport security personnel believe that increasing numbers of security personnel, coupled with an increase in high tech solutions would reduce instances of breach attempts, but staffing levels and funding variables make it difficult to apply the changes across the board.
Following a recent lecture arranged by the Aviation Security Department of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, security personnel compiled a list of new operational equipment that they say is needed to improve security to a level that can help to combat threats to nationwide aviation security.
The equipment list contains state-of-the-art screening facilities including scanners, operational vehicles and communications equipment in addition to a request for the installation of closed circuit television cameras.
Speaking through Mr Wendel Ogunedo, the director of aviation security for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the aviation security officers have expressed their concern over the trend of inadequacy in the areas of personnel training and obsolete technology in the wake of a growing threat to national security that is not unique to Nigeria.
In order for them to respond adequately, the security officers say that advancements must be made to upgrade their equipment and recruit additional personnel. Mr Ogunedo agreed and said the task of securing the airport from ‘unlawful interference by unauthorised persons’ would be best carried out with the addition of 1500 security personnel.
All across the globe, aviation security is under threat. Airports and other critical facilities can ensure security only with adequate equipment and personnel to undertake what is becoming a major, worldwide concern.
A recent inspection of Delhi Airport perimeter security by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has raised concerns to the point that they have refused to take over the system unless it becomes ‘totally flawless’. The system seems to be fraught with technical problems which have caused false alarms and intermittent CCTV capture.
This is not the first inspection that has failed at the airport, in spite of approximately Rs 5 crore being spent on ‘improvements’. The CISF have met with airport officials around 50 times and so far, there are no changes. This final meeting has resulted in the CISF to demand of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) that either the system be deactivated or a solution finally provided for the perimeter security.
G M Siddeswara, the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation had informed parliament that the system was flawless, but this is disputed by the CISF.
The CISF referred to a recent airport intrusion where perimeter security was compromised and said, “When that happened on Thursday the CISF personnel saw the intruder but the CCTV didn’t capture any image. And in case of every intrusion, CISF personnel could notice the intruder only after 15 minutes. Now we have asked BCAS to uninstall the system if DIAL cannot address the issues. The system has become a liability. The system is supposed to instantly raise alarm if someone tries to fiddle with the taut wire. Also, the camera should immediately focus on that spot without loss of time. DIAL should ensure that system doesn’t generate any false alarm.”
With current security measures tightening across airport environments all over the world, the matter must be settled with a viable solution for perimeter security implemented. The perimeter fencing is, in many cases, the first barrier to potential intrusion and critical to maintaining a secure facility.
UK PM David Cameron today said that the safety of air passengers ‘must come first’ when commenting on the tightening of airport security across the UK amidst fears of possible terrorist attacks announced in Washington.
It is hoped that unnecessary delays are not caused, but it is clear that no risks can be taken with the threat of an attack plot from the Yemen and Syrian extremist groups.
Mr Cameron said, speaking to the BBC yesterday, “We take these decisions looking at the evidence in front of us and working with our partners. This is something we’ve discussed with the Americans and what we have done is put in place some extra precautions and extra checks. The safety of the travelling public must come first. We mustn’t take any risks with that. I hope this won’t lead to unnecessary delays but it’s very important that we always put safety first, and we do.”
For the time being, airport security measures will be tightened, although it is not yet clear to what extent. Significant disruption is expected, but airport security officials are working closely with the UK government to initiate procedures that keep delays to a minimum. Air passengers are advised to allow plenty of time to pass through security at the borders.