• Distant scanningDistant-scanning crowds for potential threats

    Everyone wants to be safe and secure, but can you imagine if you had to go through a security screening at the metro station like there is at the airport? What if there were a way to safely scan crowds for potential threat items in places like metro and train stations without security officials coming into direct contact with the public and while maintaining individual privacy?

  • Airport securityU.K. gov. launches £3M competition for innovative airport bomb-detection tech

    Two U.K. government ministries — the Home Office and Department for Transport—have launched a Dragons’ Den-style investment prize, hoping to find innovative ways to detect bombs in laptops, phones, and cameras carried by passengers on board. The government has announced a £3 million competition in an effort to attract scientists and inventors to help the security services and the airline industry keep up with the nefarious ingenuity of terrorists.

  • Biometric exit program DHS’s airport biometric exit program faces budgetary, legal, technical, and privacy questions

    DHS has installed experimental face-recognition system in nine U.S. airports. If DHS’s current plans are executed, every traveler flying overseas, American and foreign national alike, will soon be subject to a face recognition scan as part of this “biometric exit” program. A new report notes that neither Congress nor DHS has ever justified the need for the program. Congress never provided a rationale for it. Congress never provided a rationale for it while DHS has repeatedly questioned “the additional value biometric air exit would provide.” The biometric exit program also stands on shaky legal ground, and to make matters worse, the face scanning technology used by DHS may make frequent mistakes. “The privacy concerns implicated by biometric exit are at least as troubling as the system’s legal and technical problems,” the report notes.

  • Aviation securityNew simulator tool allows testing the explosive vulnerabilities of aircraft

    Each day, more than twenty-six thousand commercial flights transport passengers and cargo to destinations around the world. S&T’s Commercial Aircraft Vulnerability and Mitigation (CAVM) program supports testing and evaluation efforts to assess potential vulnerabilities and evaluate countermeasures that can mitigate the impact of explosives on commercial aircraft. Newer generations of commercial aircraft fuselages are being made with composite materials, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic, so CAVM needs to develop a sustainable and representative testing solution in order to all evaluations of new composite aircraft structures to explosive-based threats could continue as needed.

  • Airport securityBiometric solutions to bolster security at U.S. airports

    World events over the last decade—and even in the last year—have shown that airports are an attractive target to terrorists. At the same time, the number of international air travelers is increasing. More than 119 million international travelers arrived in fiscal year (FY) 2016, an almost six percent increase from FY 2015 and over a 35 percent increase since FY 2009. It is estimated that international arrivals will continue to grow at more than four percent annually. In this changing security landscape, finding effective and scalable solutions to increase security and efficiently process travelers is imperative. The need is critical and will only grow as many airports are already operating at or near capacity.

  • Explosives detectionHomemade Explosive Characterization Program helps keep Americans safe

    Each day almost two million Americans travel on commercial aviation domestically and internationally, and in addition tens of millions use America’s mass transit systems. In recent months, several significant plots to take down commercial aircraft and attack public spaces have been thwarted due to the mitigation efforts of law enforcement and government counter terrorism agencies across the globe. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says it is at the forefront of the response to, and mitigation against, such plots against the homeland.

  • Aviation securityFlights worldwide face increased risk of severe turbulence owing to climate change

    Flights all around the world could be encountering lots more turbulence in the future, according to the first ever global projections of in-flight bumpiness. A new study has calculated that climate change will significantly increase the amount of severe turbulence worldwide by 2050–2080. Severe turbulence involves forces stronger than gravity, and is strong enough to throw people and luggage around an aircraft cabin.

  • 9/11 attacksSaudi government funded a “dry run” for 9/11: Court documents

    The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. paid two Saudis to conduct a “dry run” of the 9/11 attacks, documents submitted by lawyers for plaintiffs in a terrorism case against the Saudi government show. The complaint stated that the Saudi government paid two nationals, posing as students in the United States, to take a flight from Phoenix to Washington in November 1999 in order to test out flight deck security. The two Saudi nationals, whose tickets were paid for by the Saudi embassy, took a flight from Phoenix to Washington, but their persistent questions of the crew about cockpit security, and their several attempts to enter the cockpit, led the pilots to make an emergency landing in Ohio, and the two Saudis were escorted off the plane by FBI agents. The two men were released after an initial interrogation by the FBI.

  • Airport securityGetting past security without a plane ticket

    Starting Tuesday, 5 September, Pittsburgh International Airport has become the first U.S. airport to allow non-fliers regular access into its gate-side terminal areas since security measures changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The airport has won approval from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for non-ticketed customers to pass through security, though they will still have to go through the same screening as those catching flights. They will also be required to show ID so they can be vetted against no-fly lists.

  • Airport securityTouch-free fingerprint scanners

    Balancing speed and security at the airport is essential to ensuring safe, reliable travel. DHS S&T and TSA are evaluating new identity verification technology that can reduce the time it takes for travelers to pass through security. The touch-free scanners allow a traveler’s fingerprints to serve as their boarding pass and identity document.

  • Security kiosksAutomated security kiosk to shorten lines at airports, border crossings

    Researchers have developed a next-generation automated screening kiosk which uses an algorithm of “yes” or “no” questions delivered by a computer-generated avatar, quickly and efficiently to assess the potential threats passengers may pose to others. the screening can be completed in less than four minutes with a 90 percent success rate.

  • AviationRising temperatures may limit aircraft takeoffs globally

    Global temperatures have gone up nearly 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) since about 1980, and this may already be having an effect. In late June, American Airlines canceled more than 40 flights out of Phoenix, Ariz., when daytime highs of nearly 120 degrees made it too hot for smaller regional jets to take off. Rising temperatures due to global warming will make it harder for many aircraft around the world to take off in coming decades, says a new study. During the hottest parts of the day, 10 to 30 percent of fully loaded planes may have to remove some fuel, cargo or passengers, or else wait for cooler hours to fly, a new study shows.

  • Radiation risksLab mistakenly ships radioactive material aboard commercial plane

    Employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been fired and disciplinary action against other personnel was taken after small amounts of radioactive material were mistakenly shipped aboard a commercial cargo plane. Nuclear experts say the mishap could have led to serious consequences. The rapid pressure changes during flights could have damaged the packaging, causing radiation to escape.

  • Security screeningWhat air travelers will tolerate for non-discriminatory security screening

    Mounting anti-terrorism security procedures and the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) screening processes have launched numerous debates about the protection of civil liberties and equal treatment of passengers. A new study has successfully quantified how much potential air passengers value equal protection when measured against sacrifices in safety, cost, wait time, and convenience.

  • AviationU.S. imposes enhanced security measures on U.S.-bound flights from 105 countries

    The United States will impose tough new security measures on all international flights bound for the United States. DHS officials said 280 airports in 105 countries would be affected by the tightened security, affecting around 2,000 flights a day. Airlines have been warned that a failure to comply with these enhanced security measures would carry consequences, including banning laptops altogether on the airlines’ U.S.-bound flights.