Copenhagen Airport changes passenger screening

State of the art screening system with automatic detection improves security and provides a better experience for both passengers and staff


Copenhagen Airport has introduced new passenger screening equipment which not only increases security and operational efficiency but also improves the working environment and customer satisfaction.

In order to meet the new 2015 EU regulations aimed at increasing the detection of non-metallic threat items, there were four possible options: a security scanner system; EDT (explosive trace detection) equipment; detection dogs; or more extensive manual searches. Two factors ruled out the manual search option including research which shows that it is one of the things passengers hate most about the security process. Secondly, as Johnnie Müller, Copenhagen Airport’s Security Director explained, “carrying out anything up to 600 manual searches in one shift is arduous for the checkpoint operators and presents a risk of repetitive strain injury from the constant bending. Avoiding the resulting knee, hip and back injuries would, of course, be a improvement. We came to the decision that scanners were the answer.”

The winner

Having decided on scanners, three different systems were assessed at the checkpoint but one stood out – the eqo from Smiths Detection. It scored the highest marks in all the different areas tested including ease of integration into the checkpoint; total process speed; false alarm rate; and user and passenger friendliness.

On entering the checkpoint, passengers are first screened with a standard metal detector. If this raises a real or random alarm, the person is directed to the eqo to resolve the query. Here the passenger holds their arms away from his or her body whilst completing a turn in front of the scanning panel. Turning the body is critical to enable scanning from all angles and eliminate any potential ‘blind spots’. At Copenhagen Airport, people have been guided through this process with the aid of a video, markers on the floor and multi-lingual instructional signs. The eqo’s open layout also means operators are available to offer help and guidance where necessary.

The display monitor can be seen by both passenger and operator and, for privacy, uses the same generic outline of a person for every scan. Once the scan is finished, results are presented immediately so people can be cleared in a matter of seconds. Any potential threats identified are marked in the appropriate position on the silhouette image allowing for a fast and efficient directed search.

Appropriate design – easy installation

The eqo also looks different with an open design. Passengers find it less imposing than other equipment. A compact structure meant the eqo fitted into the existing checkpoint layout– and met the loading weight parameters for the existing floor.

One year on from the first installation, downtime has been short and the maintenance burden is light due to the ‘no moving parts’ technology – all of which has an impact on the total cost of ownership. When intervention is required, it is fast and simple via the front panel which gives access to all components. The equipment features a similar interface to its sister x-ray systems, enabling operators to familiarise themselves with the equipment.

Process appeals to passengers

Instant results and low false alarm rates make the process fast and boost throughput with process statistics available directly from the system.

The less intrusive process appeals to the passengers and so does the open environment and direct communication with the screening operators. Manual searches are unpopular with passengers so reducing this aspect of the screening process to a targeted inspection is appreciated. If any potential threats are detected, the location is precisely noted on the human silhouette which means quicker, pinpointed (rather than full) body searches.

“Customer service and satisfaction levels are very important to us. The dialogue between the passenger and the security staff at the checkpoint is very important to the overall flow, efficiency and customer service experience.” added Johnnie Müller.

The eqo system was initially integrated into 18 checkpoints at Copenhagen Airport in time for the new EU regulations which came into force in September 2015. At that point it was the biggest eqo installation in Europe. Further scanners have since been ordered.

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Rory Doyle

Rory Doyle is a director of Product Management with responsibility for Smiths Detection’s people screening products. He has a broad background in microelectronics technology and product development. In his current role he has over 12 years experience in the specification, development and deployment of advanced people screening technology and products. Specific technology areas include millimetre-wave and transmission X-Ray screening systems. He has extensive global experience in the field deployment and process integration of advanced people screening systems.

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