Faster passenger checks possible at airport

Faster passenger checks possible at airport

Most passengers feel that checking their hand luggage and their own bodies is a necessary but also burdensome part of their trip.

The procedure becomes particularly nerve-wracking when long queues form at the counters and the departure date draws ever closer.

Last year, thousands of passengers missed their flights at rush hour, and not only in frankfurt; the controls played their part in this. But tests at hamburg and frankfurt airports now promise improvement, raising hopes that another chaotic summer could be avoided.

The trick seems simple, because it’s really just a matter of being allowed to overtake in the control line. At the entrance to the new configuration, three passengers can sort their hand luggage, take out their fluff and computer and hang up at the same time – the experienced frequent flyer no longer has to wait until the newcomer has finally found the last deodorant stick and put it in the mandatory clear-view bag. Even in the further course, the inspectors have the possibility to take out individual packages and passengers without holding up the entire load.

In 2018, the federal police, who are in charge, came under heavy criticism from the airport and airlines, with lufthansa in the lead. German controls are too expensive and not effective enough by international standards, complained frankfurt airport chief stefan schulte. The major airports want to control the deployment of private security forces at the terminals themselves in the future and, if possible, also plan the installations themselves. The federal police should only provide technical supervision, is the proposal, for which, however, the aviation security act had to be amended.

The federal police now want to prove that they can do it better. The two new control lanes will be much more efficient than the existing ones, the frankfurt management reported on friday. Exact figures are not yet available, but according to reports, the new lanes are at least twice as fast as before.

However, the new systems require more space than the old ones: in an extension to frankfurt’s terminal 1 planned for the summer, seven new lines are to be installed instead of ten conventional ones at a cost of around 10 million euros. According to internal expectations, the hourly performance could thus increase from around 800 to about 1500 passengers. This has accelerated processes at pier A in particular, which is used primarily by lufthansa.

Technically, even more is possible. The ront equipment used at german airports all comes from an inconspicuous industrial hall in the wiesbaden suburb of erbenheim. Around 600 people develop, build and sell some 4,000 highly sensitive scanners for military and civilian applications here every year for the british smiths conglomerate. Whether it’s high-security conferences like the one in davos, courts and prisons, major events like last year’s soccer world cup, or even the security areas of airports: everywhere there are devices from smiths detection, which sees itself as the european market leader. The export rate is over 80 percent.

For development chief rainer henkel, it is clear that the scanners currently installed at german airports could achieve a much higher throughput per hour. "The bottleneck doesn’t occur at the equipment, but before and behind it," says the engineer.

The next generation of smiths scanners, just certified at the end of 2018, could bring a further leap in comfort, promises henkel. For the first time, medical computer tomography technology is being used for hand-held operations. Instead of the previous four images, up to 800 images of the baggage can be taken without any loss of speed, allowing three-dimensional views and layer-by-layer inspection of the items on the screen. Laptops and liquids can now be kept in the hand luggage, as the operator can hide them on the screen with a single mouse click. Previously, they were sorted out to simplify the ront gene image.

CT technology has been used for checked baggage since 2012, and the new hand-pack scanners, which have already been approved in europe, are being tested in the u.S., australia and amsterdam, among other countries. Keeping liquids, laptops and other technical equipment in the suitcase would be more convenient for passengers and would have the desired side effect of reducing the number of tubs to be checked. The new devices are more expensive than their predecessors, admits smiths-detection’s head of sales, alexander rund. Whether they will also be used at german airports depends on the decision of the federal procurement office.

Even with the new lanes, there will still be waiting times in frankfurt; after all, in the summer, the 9 new units will be compared with 180 using the old technology. On friday, the federal police called on fraport to provide additional space for the rougher control lanes at the other accesses, possibly at the expense of lucrative loading areas. The airlines could also contribute to faster checks by reducing the amount of hand luggage through their ticketing policy.

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