The European Union is trialling anti-terrorism technology aimed at detecting suspicious behaviour on board aircraft. The system uses a combination of CCTV, microphones, explosive detectors all linked through a software package that analyses the data.
The software picks up on unusual behaviour or events, such as a case being left unattended or an individual going against the crowd flow.
Brussels is funding the research project being conducted at Reading University.
The research team has conducted trials of the camera system on a British Aerospace plane and the computer system on a mock Airbus, according to The Telegraph.
Similar systems have been deployed at stations and airports around the world, but the new trials would be a first for on-board commercial aircraft.
“What we are doing is extending technology already used at airports and railway stations and placing it on an aircraft,” said James Ferryman, who is leading the research project.
One option would be to allocate some seats to passengers whose behaviour has already raised concern at the airport, so they could be monitored on board.
Microphones would pick up on anything which could suggest terrorist behaviour. Inside the lavatories explosives sniffers would detect if a bomb was being assembled.
All this information would be analysed by computer and if it spotted something suspicious, the flight deck would be alerted instantly.
According to researchers this technology would have prevented the Nigerian Al Qaeda terrorist who tried to detonate an explosion on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit.
“It is known that the terrorist was acting nervously in the airport prior to boarding – this could have been picked up with the same automated CCTV technology – and that they spent time in the toilet assembling the components of the explosive,” Mr Ferryman said.