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Airport screening study

In a study on the market for explosives, weapons and contraband (EWC) detection equipment for airports, the US-based market research company IHS found the market to be worth more than $740m globally and to have a CAGR of 6pc over the next four years.

In July 2014, Department of Homeland Security officials announced new screening measures on international flights into the US in response to concerns that terrorist are planning to carry out attacks on aircraft or at airports using body-borne improvised explosives devices (BBIED).

Today, according to Jared Bickenbach, analyst for Security and Building Technologies at the market research firm, a combination of checkpoint screening equipment is used to screen for explosives, including backscatter X-ray, millimeter-wave scanners, metal detectors, and explosives trace detectors. Due to privacy and medical concerns related to the use of backscatter and millimeter-wave technologies, regulators have prohibited more invasive X-ray screening of passengers that can detect BBIEDs like the high energy X-ray systems used by customs agencies to detect drugs or other contraband hidden within the body. In response to these new security threats, passengers, their luggage and electronic devises are being subjected to enhanced explosives screening with existing trace and X-ray detection equipment. Passengers are also required to turn on all electronic devises to ensure they are not being used as remote detonators for BBIEDs.

These new screening measures only apply to flights into the US from Europe and the Middle East; however, IHS expects these screening measures to come in other regions as the threat of BBIEDs increases worldwide. Due to the limitations of X-ray based screening equipment in detecting BBIEDs, IHS expects airports to increasingly turn to desktop and hand-held trace detection technologies to screen for explosive residue. Because of this, multi-application detection equipment is expected to be the second fastest growing detection type over the next four years with a CAGR of 6.3 per cent.

As threats to the airports industry have evolved, so too have the technologies used to detect these threats. Much like the evolution of other aviation threats (i.e., the threat of liquid, aerosols, and gel explosives, shoe bombs, and underwear bombs), the threat of BBIEDs will have to be addressed with a combination of technologies and regulations that meet the health, safety, and privacy demands of passengers and regulators. The airport checkpoint market is poised to see continued growth as airports, airlines, and regulators look for the best solution to the threat from BBIEDs.


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