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High-tech security screening trialled for the first time at Shannon Airport

The EU-funded XP-DITE project is trialling the world’s first security system that could halve security time at airports by combining EU and US checkpoints into a single checkpoint.

The five-year project, which is due to end in July 2017, aims to develop and demonstrate a comprehensive, passenger-centred, outcome-focused, system-level approach to the design and evaluation of airport security checkpoints. This would improve passenger experience, as well as ensure the maintenance of a robust security performance. Shannon Airport is the first airport in the world to trial the new pre-clearance checkpoint. As a growing regional airport which saw around 1.7 million passengers pass through its gates in 2015, Shannon contrasts with Schiphol airport, the other and much larger European and international hub that is taking part in the project. Together they will help ensure that the XP-DITE system-level concepts, design and evaluation tools and methods are applicable to European airports of different types and sizes. This would give airports the freedom to use innovative procedures and technology to improve passenger convenience and reduce delays. Shannon itself is seen as an ideal candidate airport to trial the new system – it serves air routes to a number of different destinations which are subject to varying security regulations and border controls. In 2015, 31 % of passengers travelled to Europe, 22 % left on transatlantic flights, 5 % transited the airport en route to their final destination and 42 % travelled to the UK (which forms a Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland). Shannon Airport was also the first airport in Europe to provide full United States Preclearance services following the construction of a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facility in 2009. As such, the Shannon XP-DITE trial is designed to comply simultaneously with two different sets of regulations (EU and the US TSA systems). ‘Designing and evaluating airport checkpoints at system level gives the possibility to assess new approaches to airport security which could maintain a high level of security while improving the experience for passengers and reducing costs for operators,’ commented XP-DITE project coordinator Mark van den Brink. Pre-clearance allows passengers to complete immigration and customs formalities, as well as security screening for US domestic flights, before they travel to the USA. This means that they can land at any airport in the United States, not just the major international hubs. They can also take domestic flights without rescreening and their luggage can be checked through to their final destination without the need for reclaim whilst in transit. With ten major airports across Europe and around the world looking to adopt the pre-clearance approach, the XP-DITE system would go a long way towards making such convenient transatlantic air travel a reality, which could benefit some 20 million US-bound passengers per year. Niall Maloney, Airport Operations Director for Shannon commented: ‘The elimination of the additional security measures in the U.S. Pre-clearance facility in particular is a significant advancement in improving both our passengers' and customer airlines' experience. We have literally just started trialling the new checkpoint and already we are getting positive feedback from our airport customers availing of the pre-clearance by the removal of a checkpoint.’ With such positive results already emanating from the Shannon trial, which will run for 10 weeks in total, a larger XP-DITE trial will be scheduled for Schiphol in order to test the new system’s ability to cope with a much higher number of passengers in a crucial international hub. For more information please see: project website



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