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Electronic Technology Aims to Improve Airline Safety

DN Staff

February 17, 2004

3 Min Read
Electronic Technology Aims to Improve Airline Safety

Falls Church, VA. - The push for increased air transportation safety has prompted much development in high tech systems. Two systems set to ship this year should improve operating efficiency while minimizing the chance of disasters such as bombs and collisions.

Ensco Inc., headquartered here, (http://www.ensco.com/products/homeland/ssn/ssn_ovr.htm) recently teamed up with Endicott Interconnect Technologies of Endicott, NY, (http://www.endicottinterconnect.com/News/newsarticle.html?a=16) to supply airports with explosive detection. The SureScan system unveiled in mid-February uses x-rays and computer tomographic (CT) scanning techniques to quickly scan luggage for evidence of explosives. It can check from 1,000 to 2,000 bags per hour, depending on the model purchased. That's fast enough to permit 100 % testing, a spokesman says. Bomb detection is also increased while the number of false positives is lower than with conventional first-pass techniques, according to Ensco. The 8,500-pound machine, expected to begin shipping this year, can handle bags weighing up to 75 pounds, moving them on conveyors at speeds up to 45 feet per minute. When explosives are detected, alerts are sent to operator monitors via the system's Ethernet interface.

Addressing a vastly different aspect of air safety, Sensis Corp. of Dewitt, NY,
(http://www.sensis.com/docs/128/) is beefing up production of its Airport Surface Detection Equipment Systems, Model X. That hardware provides seamless information on ground traffic and airborne planes in the immediate vicinity of the airport. The FAA recently authorized $35 million for another 11 units, bringing the total that will be deployed in the U.S. to 34. The system, which the FAA declared ready for U.S. deployment in October 2003, is also being installed at seven international airports.

Sensis' ASDE-X system blends surface movement radar, transponder multilateration, and various sensors to show vehicle position, with planes labeled with flight call signs. Multilateration employs transponders on planes and other vehicles to detect their position. The combination of three technologies provides accuracy and quick refreshing of data, which should help prevent accidents on the ground. Software predicts traffic conflicts and helps resolve them, as well as helping operators better understand queuing and other issues related to gate assignments.


The SureScan systems monitors planes and other vehicles equipped with transponders, minimizing the chances of on-ground collisions.


The SureScan system from Ensco and Endicott can examine up to 2,000 pieces of luggage an hour.

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