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FP6

SAFEE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 503521
Funded under: FP6-AEROSPACE
Country: France

Managing threats to aircraft safety

An EU-funded initiative set out to restore confidence in the air transport industry by focusing on the development of a threat-sensing response system. Advances in this realm aim to ensure the overall in-flight safety of an aircraft.
Managing threats to aircraft safety
The 'Security of aircraft in the future European environment' (SAFEE) project addressed security on board an aircraft in the context of security-related incidents in the past. It had the ultimate aim of constructing an advanced onboard aircraft threat-sensing security system especially suited for terrorist threats.

The project's systems have interfaces for the pilot in the cockpit, for the cabin crew and security staff in the cabin, on-board crew communication links, and air/ground communication links. The system's output includes — separately for cockpit crew, cabin crew and security staff — alerts, information and advice, commands to aircraft systems following pilot authorisation or failed cockpit crew authentication, and information to the ground when necessary, and only following pilot authorisation.

SAFEE systems input offers preflight data (such as passenger data, luggage data, threat-level update data and predetermined indicator data) which is loaded before the flight into the threat assessment and response management system (TARMS) and onboard threat detection system (OTDS). It also includes in-flight data input (such as security sensor data, manual crew input to the TARMS, aircraft system input and updates of the preflight data) and input from other decision support systems.

The OTDS that was developed was integrally evaluated in an operational context, in particular for aircraft access control, detection of suspicious personal behaviour and detection of dangerous materials. Flight protection, an important element of SAFEE's envisioned responses to hostile attempts, includes an emergency avoidance system and flight reconfiguration function — both set in motion in response to TARMS requests.

Various evaluation campaigns and trials (for example, for TARMS and OTDS) were conducted in aircraft mock-ups and simulated environments. Testing the deployment of some of the data protection systems in this way provided the project team with valuable information on which to base further recommendations and routes of investigation. The subsystem for detecting suspicious personal behaviour returned positive results for various predefined behaviour patterns and detecting complex scenarios.

An onboard system for detecting dangerous substances requires substance-specific sensors and environmental conditions, which complicates the installation and operation of such a system on board an aircraft. One way of resolving this is to careful select and combine several types of sensors — a method that could soon be commonplace.

SAFEE project activities and results could go a long way to making flights under threat safer, easier to handle and more inclined to positive outcome.

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