• Radiation risksAirport X-ray screening systems comply with health and safety radiation exposure standard

    Machines that use advanced X-ray imaging technology to screen airport passengers comply with radiation exposure limits set by the American National Standards Institute/Health Physics Society (ANSI/HPS), says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report also finds that the machines adhere to the recommended safety mechanisms described in the ANSI/HPS standards to prevent overexposure to radiation in the event of a mechanical failure or deliberate tampering.

  • AviationTSA agents find record number of guns in carry-on luggage at airports

    TSA agents discovered 67 guns in carry-on luggage during the week which ended 17 September. The tally for the week broke an earlier record of 65 firearms found during one week in May 2013. TSAofficers found nearly 1,900 firearms in carry-on luggage between 1 January and 31 August 2015. This year is thus on track to see a 28 percent spike in the number of firearms found compared to the 2,212 guns — an average of about 40 a week — discovered by TSA agents in 2014.

  • Real IDResidents of 4 states may need more than a driver license to board domestic flights

    Residents of four states — New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Louisiana – may soon need more than their driver’s licenses as a means of identification when boarding an aircraft for a domestic flight, DHS says. These states’ licenses do not meet the standards stipulated by DHS under the latest phase of the federal Real ID Act of 2005. Residents from these four states will have to present their passports with them, or some other means of DHS-approved identification, before being allowed on board.

  • BiometricsBringing contactless fingerprint technology to market

    Quickly moving through security checkpoints by showing your hand to a scanner seems straight out of science fiction, but work is being done to bring fast, touchless fingerprint readers out of the lab and into the marketplace. The touchless technology offers speed and a hygienic alternative to conventional fingerprint readers.

  • Airport securityTSA deploys AtHoc crisis communication solution in 200 airports

    TSA joins the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in deploying AtHoc to improve crisis communication in 200 U.S. airports. TSA’s Alert Warning System (AWS), based on AtHoc, will enable real-time accountability of TSA staff during routine, emergency, and critical events.

  • Airport securityAirport body scanners fail to provide promised security

    Since 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent $160 million on scanners to identify passengers which may be carrying weapons. These scanners, however, do not perform as well as was originally believed.Independent audits have found that the system provides weak protection against determined adversaries.A display of the mock weapons and explosives whichthat investigators were able to get through the scanners included various size folding knives, a kitchen knife, explosive-less hand grenades, a handled awl, a lighter, handguns, ammunition, a shotgun shell, various bludgeons, and a nunchaku.

  • view counter
  • Trusted travelersU.S., Canada, Mexico create North American Trusted Traveler network

    DHS said it has joined Public Safety Canada and the Secretariat of Governance of Mexico in outlining the first steps toward the creation of a North American Trusted Traveler network. The new agreement, signed on 10 July 2015, will make it easier for eligible travelers in the United States, Mexico, and Canada to apply for expedited screening programs. Eligible travelers will be able to apply for each program beginning in 2016.

  • Capitol securityD.C. security gaps exposed by gyrocopter landing on Capitol grounds: Senate panel

    A Senate committee has concluded that the Florida man who flew a one-man gyrocopter and landed it on the U.S. Capitol grounds, had exposed security gaps and inadequate coordination among the agencies charged with protecting the Capitol, the White House, and other Washington landmarks. In addition to calling for better coordination among the different agencies responsible for securing important sites in Washington, D.C., the committee strongly recommends seeking new “technological solutions” to spot similar flights in the future, suggesting that Congress should also consider increasing penalties for those who breach the restricted airspace.

  • DronesNew air traffic management system to make drone air traffic safer

    Researchers are now working on a new, low-altitude traffic management system to keep fast-moving flyers safer as they cruise through increasingly crowded skies. A handful of organizations are participating in the first phase of the NASA Ames Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management project to enable safer use of low-altitude airspace, of 500 feet and below, where autonomous aerial vehicles, helicopters, gliders, and other general aircraft are operating.

  • AviationBomb-proof lining contains explosion in aircraft’s luggage hold

    A bomb-proof lining developed by an international team of scientists has successfully contained blasts in a series of controlled explosions in the luggage hold of a Boeing 747 and an Airbus 321. The Fly-Bag, which lines an aircraft’s luggage hold with multiple layers of novel fabrics and composites, was tested last week under increasing explosive charges on disused planes. The tests, using this technology, have demonstrated that a plane’s luggage hold may be able to contain the force of an explosion should a device concealed within a passenger’s luggage be detonated during a flight.

  • AviationCyberjacking may be the new threat to air travel

    We accept lengthy queues in airport security as a small price to pay for a couple of weeks in the sun. Could the latest threat to air travel, however, be something that cannot be picked up by metal detectors and X-ray machines? Is cyberjacking — hacking into a plane’s computer systems — a possibility? Researchers warn that it is possible. There is no need to cancel that holiday just yet, however.

  • AviationMH370 Boeing 777 nosedived to the ocean floor: Mathematicians

    The plight of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370) is one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history, but now an interdisciplinary research team has theorized the ill-fated plane plunged vertically into the southern Indian Ocean in March 2014. The researchers used applied mathematics and computational fluid dynamics to conduct numerical simulations of a Boeing 777 plunging into the ocean, a so-called “water entry” problem in applied mathematics and aerospace engineering. They say that based on all available evidence — especially the lack of floating debris or oil spills near the area of the presumed crash — the mostly likely theory is that the plane entered the water at a vertical or steep angle.

  • AviationTSA failed to identify 73 employees potentially associated with terrorism

    The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) yesterday released a report on TSA’s controls over the vetting of aviation workers who apply for credentials allowing unescorted access to secured airport areas. The TSA repeatedly screens about two million airport workers, but OIG says that the agency failed to identify seventy-three workers potentially associated with terrorism. One reason for this slip: the DHS watch-list, against which the TSA checks airline and airport applicants and workers, is not as comprehensive as the government’s terrorist database. TSA says it will begin to check applicants and employees against the broader list by the end of the year.

  • AviationAirport screeners missed 95% of mock explosives, weapons in tests; TSA acting director removed

    Following reports that screenings failed to detect mock explosives and weapons, carried out by undercover agents in tests, in 95 percent of cases, DHS secretary Jeh Johnson has ordered improved security at airports and reassigned Melvin Carraway, acting administrator of the TSA, to another role. DHS IG, in a forthcoming report, says that airport screeners, employed by TSA, did not detect banned weapons in 67 out of 70 tests at dozens of U.S. airports.

  • AviationCould better tests have predicted the rare circumstances of the Germanwings crash? Probably not

    By Norman A. Paradis

    When people do terrible things, it seems reasonable to believe we should have taken steps to identify them beforehand. If we can do that, then surely we can prevent them from doing harm. The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in March, which appears to have been an intentional act, is an example. It shocks us (and understandably so) when a trusted professional harms those who have entrusted their lives to him or her. So why not identify pilots at risk and take steps to prevent similar events from ever occurring again? Because it is likely impossible, and maybe even counterproductive. The limits of what can be achieved in predicting an event represent a dilemma we face all the time in biomedical testing. It may be possible to prevent rare events such as the Germanwings tragedy — “smart” cockpit doors or some such technological solution. But predicting their occurrence by looking more closely at the individuals involved is doomed to fail.