Detection systems under spotlight of SAFEE programme's three simulation studies
Three simulation studies are soon to test Europe’s future anti-terror arsenal, with researchers using new technology to detect and handle on-board terror threats. Halfway through the four-year, €35.8 million ($46 million) Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) programme, the project has a user club of more than 100 aviation security and operational experts.
Sagem’s Daniel Gaultier, director of SAFEE, says the project is addressing historical evidence that would-be terrorists can get through several airport checks before boarding an aircraft. “There is therefore a need to secure the aircraft itself as the last barrier of attack,” Gaultier says. The project is developing on-board threat detection systems with information fed back securely by flightcrew to the ground to allow effective decision-making in the event of, at worst, a suicide hijack or attempted bombing.
SAFEE systems are to be validated using simulator tools at Toulouse, Hamburg and Amsterdam, and include:
- automatic avoidance system able to modify an aircraft’s trajectory using real-time cockpit data should the aircraft stray off course, to be tested by Thales-Avionics;
- a threat-detection system in the aircraft cabin, which will process information from video and audio sensors to detect erratic passenger behaviour, to be evaluated by Airbus;
- a threat assessment and response management system designed to assemble data and recommend appropriate responses for the cockpit crew via a computer screen, to be tested by NLR;
- a data protection system to secure communications, including conversations between the cockpit and ground control, developed by Sagem Defense Securite.
A chip-based system will also match passengers to luggage while biometric camera surveillance at check-in will verify passenger identity, while an electronic nose will check for traces of explosives before boarding. A secure cockpit biometric system will also recognise authorised crew by fingerprint and check whether they are opening it under duress.
Gaultier says SAFEE anticipates the future use of the planned air traffic information network, the European Regional Renegade Information Dissemination System being developed by Eurocontrol, to assess the need to intercept airliners with fighters acting on hijack concerns, triggered in most cases by communication loss.