Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge:

Aviation Security is governed by EU legislation (such as Directive 2008/114/EC of 8 December 2008 on the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection) and implemented at airports (checkpoint for passengers and staff, hold baggage and air cargo control areas, etc.) and to relevant supply chains. The security requirement is to prevent unlawful interference with aviation security through aircraft, from which stems the requirement to prohibit dangerous items such as arms and explosives ('the prohibited items') coming on board an aircraft, be they carried on people, in their items, or concealed as air cargo or mail as well as supplies. Maintaining the integrity of security restricted areas for persons, items, consignments and supplies, from the moment they were controlled until they enter a secured aircraft is vital.

Policy is moving towards more risk-based, outcome-focused, passenger-facilitation oriented measures.

The challenge for aviation security research shall be to explore new ways and ideas that are conceptually very different to those already in development or deployed. This shall lead to designing systems and processes that are faster, more accurate and reliable, less invasive, and overall more efficient to operate than existing ones.

Examples of elements to visions for the future of aviation security are outlined in the COPRA FP7 project[1], Flightpath 2050[2] and IATA check point of the future[3].

Research under this topic needs to go beyond advising on current operations which are improved through short and medium term (below a 5-7 years’ time horizon) action. The development of the detection technology needs to be threat-based and take stock of the latest terrorist development in particular the threat materials and concealment methods of e.g. home-made explosives, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.



The proposal should therefore investigate systems which will translate the mentioned objectives into operationally viable processes which have an identifiable exploitation path for operators to use. It should also explore novel opportunities for security interventions and how current processes could be re-designed to give an equivalent security outcome but better passenger experience or simplification of industry processes. It could investigate how to merge other security activities or (passenger) controls with aviation security. It may test opportunities to integrate different processes into a better overall system, including at local, national, European and global level.

While proposal should aim to deliver solutions for higher levels of security and facilitation it should be developed and tested to assess their impact and viability. Realistic estimations and cost-benefit analyses of proposed solutions, both from a governmental as well as from an industry point of view, should be included to help identify promising and reasonable approaches. The legal implications of any proposal should also be assessed, especially for health and safety, but also under data protection and non-discrimination principles.

Possible areas of research (not exclusive) could be: alternative screening processes and interventions; investigate how, where and when aviation security controls shall take place to provide the most effective and efficient results; look at the further development of processes' to maximise security outcome and minimise impact on industry and passengers; and how compliance and their effectiveness will be demonstrated. It should include system level solutions.

It could touch on technical areas such as: integrated technologies and processes; the use of artificial intelligence; technologies and methods to screen items/people at a distance; radically new sensor technologies; networked information sharing; passenger tracking; automation; data/sensor fusion; self-verification systems for compliance monitoring; procedures should noxious gases accidently (or otherwise) be released on-board a plane; and integrated alarm resolution.

The effective implementation of any approaches should be explored through well recorded testing and trials. Trials should identify if any of the benefits are possible; if the process may introduce any vulnerabilities; and how compliance with such approaches could be assessed. Findings from relevant on-going Seventh Framework Programme projects should be taken into account.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between €3m and €5m would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately(similar to the Seventh Framework Programme Capability Projects described in the general introduction). Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

 In line with the EU's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation[4] international cooperation is encouraged, and in particular with international research partners involved in ongoing discussions and workshops, and US homeland security research entities. Funding for third countries is however still subject to the  evaluations.

Expected impact:  

Higher level of threat and risk-based security and a reduced operational impact on passengers and industry. Faster, more accurate and reliable, less invasive, and overall more efficient to operate systems and processes than existing ones throughout their lifetime.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions

[1]COPRA Aviation Security Research Roadmap:</p>

[2]Flightpath 2050: Europe’s vision for aviation:</p>

[3]IATA Checkpoint of the Future:</p>

[4] COM(2012)497

Record Number: 665088 / Last updated on: 2015-03-25