Aviation securityAirport security screening technology market to grow

Published 15 June 2012

In 2011, TSA distributed approximately $437.1 million in contract obligations toward airport screening technologies; this amount is likely to grow in coming years as airport security authorities look for technology which would allow them to balance the requirements of tight security, on the one hand, and demands from the public for faster and less intrusive screening measures

The U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) is responsible for preventing knives, guns, and other weapons from being taken aboard airplanes. In 2011, more than 800 guns were detected and seized at airport checkpoints before the gun-carrying passenger made it on board. These guns, and a much larger number of knives, were detected as a result of the deployment of different screening and scanning systems at airports.

A new report, U.S. Airport Screening Technologies Market, from Frost & Sullivan, finds that during 2011 TSA distributed approximately $437.1 million in contract obligations toward airport screening technologies.

Currently, explosives detection systems are the main technology for airport screening processes, but security authorities, as they try to balance the requirements of tight security, on the one hand, and demands from the public for faster and less intrusive screening measures, will increasingly be calling for systems which are smaller, more versatile, and faster.

Significant revenue growth in airport screening technology will depend on innovations in systems for the mass screening of personnel,” said Frost & Sullivan industry analyst John Hernandez. “A technology that can screen large groups subtly to categorize and separate them based on risk will revive interest and open up the market.”

Private security companies soon could be handling passenger screening at U.S. airports. This is due to recently passed legislation cleared by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

As terrorism becomes more adaptive, there is an urgent need to replace and repair the existing security systems. The effectiveness of advanced imaging technology (AIT) devices in detecting concealed weapons is still under review.

Backscatter X-ray systems have also come under scrutiny. The European Union has banned these devices due to worries about health: low doses of ionizing radiation, which is beamed directly at the body by these X-ray scanners, may increase the risk of cancer.

The TSA has repeatedly defined the scanners as ‘safe,’ but there is still uncertainty surrounding the technology,” said Hernandez. “This may compel market participants to make public their own scientific research relating to these risks and use this opportunity to attract new customers.”

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