Business & GA, Commercial

Cabin Security

By by James Careless | August 1, 2004
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On Oct. 27, 2003, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) clarified its directive that all UK airlines install a means of visually monitoring the area outside of the flight deck. In a letter providing guidance, Peter Kirk, assistant director of the Aviation Transport Security Directorate, noted that the "use of CCTV [closed-circuit television] is likely to offer the most effective means of fulfilling the ... monitoring requirement [based on ICAO's Annex 6 standard]." CCTV "offers the best way of maximizing the security benefit of the investment in the strengthened flight deck door." While countenancing other means of monitoring, the letter, in bold print, added that video "is the department's recommended solution." (ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization.)

ICAO's decision, in the wake of 9/11, to amend Annex 6, Part 1, to allow for hardened cockpit doors and better cabin surveillance, came as no surprise to industry watchers. The ICAO standard, crafted at the behest of its signatory national regulators, calls for "a means...for monitoring from either pilot's station the entire door area outside the flight crew compartment to identify persons requesting entry and to detect suspicious behavior or potential threat."

Many British carriers have ordered surveillance systems. In 2002 British Airways selected Goodrich gear for its Boeing 747s, 767s and 777s, and Virgin Atlantic purchased Goodrich equipment for its Airbus A340s and B747s. In 2002 and early 2003, British Midland, easyJet, Britannia and MyTravel purchased systems from AD Aerospace. That firm and its parent, AD Holding, have played a role in the transportation surveillance market for more than 20 years.

Outside the UK

In the Middle East and Asia, some countries appear to be taking a strong line. Singapore and Malaysia have a mandate for camera systems, according to industry sources. A document from Israel's Ministry of Transport requires the "entire area outside of the cockpit door [to be] monitored and found clear of any potential threat." The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is widely believed to be working on a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). But FAA so far has been reluctant to press the issue.

The ICAO monitoring standard has been incorporated into German regulations, applicable to German commercial aircraft with more than 60 passengers or takeoff weight of more than 100,328 pounds (45,500 kg), according to the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA), Germany's civil aviation authority. "Most of the current aeroplanes are [or will be] equipped with a video monitoring system which incorporates video cameras in the entrance area and [one or more] video screens next to the pilot's station in the cockpit," says an LBA official. But it is also possible to fulfill the requirement using other means. Theoretically, a permanent third crew member, tasked with monitoring the cockpit entrance through a "viewing port" in the door--in combination with appropriate communication procedures--"may also provide an acceptable means of compliance." Lufthansa German Airlines, for its part, already has equipped about 80 percent of its fleet with video monitoring systems, LBA says.

Lufthansa, Germany's Cityline, Dragon Air, the UK's First Choice and Air Macau have tapped AirWorks, a division of Global ePoint. Hapag-Lloyd, another German airline, and JetBlue are AD Aerospace customers. And Singapore Airlines selected Goodrich. Meanwhile, United Airlines is studying a Rockwell Collins system.

The UK DfT's policy both meets and exceeds the scope of the ICAO regulation. It meets the ICAO requirement stipulating that "appropriate means of monitoring be provided to the flight crew so that they can determine who is behind the door," says Paul Lamy, ICAO's director of personnel licensing and training. (Lamy coordinates aviation security for ICAO's air navigation bureaus.) And the DfT policy exceeds the requirement in that ICAO gives airlines the option of either installing CCTV or having "someone in the cockpit looking through the spy hole [to] say when it's okay to open the door," he says. In plain language, this means that airlines can get by with using the cockpit door spy hole rather than spend money installing a CCTV system.

Rest of Europe

Europe's Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) does not appear likely to compel the use of cameras any time soon. "The rest of Europe deferred this issue to the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), the policy-making body that wrote a guidance paper, which was sent to the heads of the national aviation regulators," says Mike Horne, managing director of AD Aerospace, a company that markets a family of video cabin surveillance products. "They've implemented the ECAC's recommendations somewhat patchily. Some have deferred the start date, and some haven't really done anything at all."

JAA has proposed amending its Joint Airworthiness Requirement (JAR-OPS 1.255) to include the ICAO language. At present, the relevant JAA committee still is considering this proposal, which applies to aircraft with more than 60 passenger seats or a takeoff weight that exceeds 100,328 pounds (45,500 kg).

"There is one little area where we are lagging behind, and it concerns the control and supervision of the area in front of the cockpit door," admits Klaus Koplin, chief executive officer of the JAA. At this point, "we will leave the door open as to whether the operator will use video systems or they will use alternative means." FAA also has difficulties with this item, Koplin adds, "because they don't want to require a video system either."

In the United States, the FAA has developed its own standards for hardened cockpit doors and improved cabin security. "This standard is along the same lines as the ICAO standard," says Horne. "It is quite brief and open to interpretation."

In Canada the national regulator, Transport Canada, "is working with the interna-

tional community to harmonize our regulations and standards," according to the recommendations of Transport Canada's Aircraft Security Operations Working Group.

These governments don't oppose video surveillance. FAA already has awarded $3.3 million in grants to 11 U.S. airlines, including JetBlue, United and Continental, so that they could afford to test video surveillance systems in flight. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will follow the UK's lead.

Reasons For Reluctance

Many regulators outside the UK are loath to recommend that their carriers install video surveillance systems. "The UK took the leap because they tend to be leaders when it comes to implementing aviation security measures," says Jack Corthell, president and CEO of Aircraft Engineering & Installation Services Inc. (AEI), which provides system integration and certification services supporting AD Aerospace. "Because of their long exposure to terrorist acts, they had many of the 9/11 security recommendations already in place. Two of their majors moved on cameras within a few weeks."

The most obvious reason regulators are hanging back is the airline industry's continued poor economic health. "The airlines don't want to expend any more money on their fleets than they need to," says Corthell. "And regulators don't want to make them spend unless absolutely necessary."

A second reason is legal. "There is some debate as to whether a cabin is a public or a private space," Corthell notes. "If it is private, then privacy law could prevent the use of video surveillance."

A third reason for balking at a video surveillance mandate is that installing a video system increases the complexity of an aircraft. This is why the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in Airworthiness Information Leaflet AIL/0191 (Aug. 19, 2003), is specific as to how both stand-alone and integrated video surveillance must be installed.

For instance, "the monitoring system should be connected to an electrical bus that does not [CAA's emphasis] supply power to aeroplane systems that are necessary for continued safe flight and landing," says AIL/0191. Meanwhile, video surveillance systems must not interfere with either flight deck displays or controls, and must not "hinder crew emergency escape provisions."

JetBlue Won't Wait

While FAA hesitates about making video cabin surveillance mandatory, at least one U.S. carrier has taken matters into its own hands. JetBlue Airways has been installing AD Aerospace video surveillance systems on its fleet of Airbus A320s. "We are interested in giving our pilots an extra set of eyes throughout the cabin," explains JetBlue spokesman, Todd Burke. In comparison to using a peephole in the cockpit door, video surveillance offers JetBlue's pilots "multiple views of the aircraft," he continues. "We have two cameras that passengers can readily see, and some more that they can't. This gives us a big advantage over a peephole, which only provides one view."

JetBlue presents cabin video in the cockpit using the same type of screens the passengers have. While the passengers are enjoying a wide range of television channels, the flight crew can access a special "captain's channel" for cabin viewing. On the two flight deck displays the pilots can choose an appropriate camera viewing angle or look at images consecutively.

JetBlue also is using a high-speed, bidirectional wireless link, so that the carrier's operations center at New York's Kennedy airport can monitor cabin activity while the plane is on the ground.

When asked about the legal implications of video surveillance and the chances that footage might end up in court, Burke replies that "this is strictly for surveillance; there's no audio, and we don't tape anything."

Lufthansa and United

Lufthansa also will install AirWorks' cockpit door surveillance systems on its new fleet of Airbus A340-600 aircraft. Images from up to 16 overt and covert cameras are displayed on touch-sensitive liquid crystal displays (LCDs) in the cockpit area. Lufthansa's support organization, Lufthansa Technik, is taking cabin surveillance to the next level, developing a wireless handheld device that allows a pilot to view the area behind the cockpit door even when in the lavatory (see Editor's Note, page 6).

United Airlines is studying the issue. In 2002 the carrier began to consider video surveillance of the upper cabin outside of the "fortress door," says Brian Haynes, manager of flight operations-technical. The airline certified and is flying in commercial service a four-camera cabin system supplied by Rockwell Collins on a Boeing 747-400. Imagery can be displayed on a pair of cockpit electronic flight bags (EFBs).

The next step is to downlink cabin surveillance video to the airline's crisis center via Inmarsat Swift64 satcom, a capability the carrier planned to begin testing last month. The airline also wants to be able to transmit images to handheld units carried by air marshals via satcom. It plans to validate the end-to-end link for transporting surveillance images and evaluate the security benefits before proceeding to prove other in-flight EFB applications, such as uplinked graphical weather.

It has been nearly three years since 9/11. This, plus the airlines' financial condition and the absence of another hijacking/suicide bombing event, may explain the lack of explicit surveillance regulations. "I think for the time being we have done what is appropriate and what has been agreed at the ICAO level," says JAA's Koplin.

Real protection against cockpit intrusions may end up being provided by aircraft built in the post-9/11 world. "New aircraft will be much better designed for security purposes," says Lamy. "The 747 already has some possibility of having a washroom on the upper deck [for the flight crew]. And I understand that the cockpit area on the A380 will have a private washroom and rest area for the crew."

So credit for securing cockpits may ultimately belong to Airbus and Boeing. "I think you will see areas in future aircraft designated just for crew use," says Koplin. "However, I don't expect to regulate this."

"The FAA typically does not dictate design approaches," echoes spokesman Les Dorr. "[But] we will work with manufacturers and operators to continue to support and encourage a safe and efficient air transportation system."

Security Before Boarding

Not all new airplane security measures will be carried out in the cabin. The Department of Homeland Security and its Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will do their best to stop potential threats before they reach an airplane. But this will require more advanced technology than peepholes or video surveillance. With a budget of $4.6 billion, however, TSA can afford to pull out all the stops.

One line of defense is biometric recognition. This uses measurable body elements, such as fingerprints, iris, voice and facial features, to identify a person. Because these features are unique to every person, it is much harder to duplicate them and pose as another person.

In most biometric screening scenarios a traveler would have to enroll in a program in which his biometric information is stored on a database or engraved on an identification card. In order to enter an airport, the traveler would insert the identification card and answer a series of questions on a touchscreen. To receive final confirmation of an identity, the person would then submit to a biometric scan. The scanned results would be compared to those on the card and access to the airport would be either granted or denied.

Biometrics proved so successful in a 2002 trial at London's Heathrow Airport that the UK government will install the system in several of its international airports over the next year. The Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS) will be used to control immigration at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted airports. The program will be voluntary but will allow those enrolled to use an express immigration line.

The United Kingdom isn't the only country using biometric recognition to shore up airport security. Not to be outdone, the United States is running biometric trials, as well. T.F. Green Airport, Warwick, R.I., which services Boston, Cape Cod, Mass., and Providence, R.I., will test access control to secure areas with an iris recognition system.

Biometric fingerprint recognition systems also will be tested at Boise Air Terminal and Gowen Field Airport in Boise, Idaho; Newark International Airport, Newark, N.J.; Southwest Florida International Airport, Fort Meyers, Fla.; and Tampa International Airport, Fla.

Beyond biometric recognition are spectrometry-based, explosives trace detection systems like Ionscan from Smiths Detection. The U.S.-based unit of the UK giant has systems installed in hundreds of airports, such as the John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International and Chicago O'Hare.

Officials at T.F. Green Airport also plan to test a new explosives detection system, General Electric's EntryScan3. Passengers who enter a checkpoint will go through the usual metal detector while carry-on luggage is X-rayed. They then will be asked to step into the trace portal where several quick puffs of air will be released. The equipment will analyze the air for trace amounts of explosive materials and notify the passenger when to exit.

This system also will be tested at Greater Rochester International Airport, Rochester, N.Y.; San Diego International Airport-Lindbergh Field; Tampa International Airport; and Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Gulfport, Miss. All told, TSA will spend some $400 million purchasing and installing these systems in numerous airports.

Cabin Surveillance Sampler

Cabin surveillance market leader, Goodrich Corp., among its range of products, provides a low-cost cockpit door video system including a color display with an integrated video computer, two to three cameras, and a system controller.

A second major player, AirWorks, supplies a cockpit door surveillance system (CDSS) that it claims is on more than 600 aircraft. CDSS uses up to 16 overt and covert cameras for pilot monitoring of the cabin and cargo holds via touch-sensitive liquid crystal displays.

AD Aerospace and AEI offer the FlightVu Cockpit Door Monitoring System and other products to many carriers. The firm's centerpiece, the FlightVu Witness system, combines overt and covert video cameras, cockpit monitors and an onboard digital video recorder/server fitted in an ARINC 600 rack. Recordings can be made during the entire flight or can be initiated whenever a flight attendant hits a "panic button." The recorded video can be provided from the camera closest to the incident or by multiplexing the output of two or more cameras, if activated by cabin crew.

Avionics Support Group (ASG) of Miami also has developed a Visual Awareness System that can be installed using one or more video cameras in the cabin or cargo hold. The cameras automatically go from color to black and white imagery as light levels drop.

In the cockpit one or two 4-inch video control display units (VCDUs) can be installed in ARINC 601 panel enclosures above the pilots, in the center pedestal or in the side panels. These units provide all system controls and display for the selected cameras. The VCDU has completed DO-160D testing and is qualified for use in Part 25 aircraft. ASG also offers optional digital video processor units, to record and download the video, and network video units to feed camera output directly to an electronic flight bag (EFB) or local area network via Ethernet.

L-3 Communications offers a basic system with two monitors, two cameras and remote alert transmitters.

ARINC's new eFlightDeck EFB is set up for viewing surveillance video, as well. Various approved cameras can be managed in groups of four--up to 16 with the available Ethernet hub.

Teledyne Controls also has announced U.S. certification and parts manufacturing approval of a cabin surveillance/EFB solution that is under evaluation on a Boeing 777-200. Two EFBs are connected to an installed video server and camera system through an eight-port Ethernet switch.

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