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RFID — improving aviation security

Galley trolleys have been the weakest aviation security link, but a new high-tech lock is making them secure.
RFID — improving aviation security

Airline security is time consuming and costly, but necessary. Mostly it works, and the current systems do prevent terrorism. However, until now the weakest link in the airline security chain has been the humble galley trolley. Current locking mechanisms are inconvenient, and can be opened without leaving any record. Furthermore, no single current system provides locking and sealing together, nor an audit trail from loading to boarding. Thus, the EU-funded project 'An innovative RFID security seal for aircraft galley trolleys' (AIR-SEAL) developed a solution that can meet this market need.

AIR-SEAL is a two-year project, funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), aimed at assisting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The project has developed a second-generation seal and locking solution, based on encrypted banking algorithm technology. Only authorised staff with the ID-tagged security device will be able to open the trolleys. Every action performed on every trolley along the whole supply chain will be electronically monitored and logged, regardless of location. Each device can be spatially tracked, with opening access restricted to particular designated locations. The system will be tamper-proof, and impossible to duplicate or infiltrate. Furthermore, it can be retrofitted to existing food and duty free trolleys.

Having fulfilled its agreed deliverables, AIR-SEAL disseminated project activities at the Aircraft Interiors Show, 2011, where a number of potential users expressed interest. The show also provided an opportunity to demonstrate the device and the feedback received was incorporated into a redesign.

Beyond AIR-SEAL's original security scope, the work should also reduce economic losses arising from theft. Furthermore, the project has identified numerous additional markets to which the security technology can be adapted. Apart from other transportation industries, this can also be adapted for healthcare, legal and military applications where secure and controlled access is needed.

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