Smiths Detection has been selected by BAA as a long-term strategic partner in a ten year deal that aims to enhance security levels at every passenger checkpoint at BAA’s seven UK airports.Starting immediately, Smiths Detection will replace all existing X-ray screening systems for passengers’ hand baggage. The advanced systems to be deployed include the world’s first deployment of aTiX (Advanced Threat Identification X-Ray), the checkpoint X-ray that can automatically detect explosives and liquids.
This is the first time a new X-ray technology has been deployed at airport checkpoints for a decade. aTiX is designed both to combat the evolving terror threat and to improve the passenger experience at checkpoints.
aTiX replaces conventional X-ray systems with computerised machines that take multiple views of a carry-on bag in the time it takes existing technology to show a single view. Software algorithms process these images automatically detecting explosives and liquids. This represents a major step forward for checkpoint security.
aTiX is based on the technology used in EDtS (Explosive Detection Tomography System), the Smiths Detection multi-view X-ray system for checked luggage. Both systems are described in the US as AT equipment - a term used to describe advanced X-ray technologies. This contract is the first time AT machines have been approved for checkpoints.
aTiX will be complemented by other new concepts, also developed by Smiths Detection, that will smooth the process of screening carry-on bags as part of the package for BAA. These include automatic tray return systems that minimise operator handling of trays, speed the movement of non-threat bags and divert suspicious bags down a separate channel for further investigation.
The deal - which is Smiths Detection’s biggest ever UK airport contract with the initial roll-out potentially worth over £20 million - includes other advanced security technologies.
Interest in aTiX machines by airport authorities is intense and most advanced in both the UK and in the US where aTiX has been involved in major trials.
Stephen Phipson, Group Managing Director of Smiths Detection, said, “This is an important contract that will have global implications for aviation security. BAA has taken a lead in passenger processing through its fundamental reappraisal of the screening process and setting a standard that other airports are soon likely to follow.
“Working with BAA we will achieve several goals, including considerably enhanced security and improved passenger throughput, while reducing operator workload.”
Ian Hutcheson, Director of Security for BAA, added, “This strategic partnership with Smiths Detection is a groundbreaking agreement which will lead to enhanced security standards at all BAA airports.
“The contract will enable us to work in collaboration with Smiths Detection to ensure continuous improvement in screening systems, including the application of the very latest technologies.
“Heathrow Terminal 5 has been built with the passenger in mind and the first application of the automated checkpoint system alongside aTiX is a clear fulfilment of our aim to improve our security processes.”