The AIR-SEAL project proposes the development of a second generation RFID security seal, capable of monitoring the integrity of an aircraft galley trolley or transportation vehicle. Since the September 11th terrorism attacks in the United States, catering services through-out the world have been seen as the weakest link in the aviation industry’s service supply chain. Existing sealing technologies are time consuming, ineffective and require a complex paper trail. A reusable and retro-fit, electronic sealing device is therefore required with an ultra-low profile. This new technology will enable the automatic sealing and inspections of galley trolleys, while improving their security by utilising a digital, anti-tamper volumetric sensor.
With an initial market value of €120million retrofitting the technology and an additional €24milion per year in new trolleys, this market has the potential of significant economic returns. Beyond the catering industry this technology will enable international logistics services and all of the SMEs operating within a secure supply chain to seal their vehicles and reduce their operating costs. Supported by a location dependant (Galileo) tag interrogator and central ICT database, a pair of smart tags will be used to seal and monitor unauthorised access to a trolley, based on a received signal strength indication technology. Upon an authorised activation, the novel security seal will transmit its location and a randomly generated locking number to a central database, using a mobile GPRS communication link in the tag interrogator. By cross-referencing the tag and database values using a standard RFID reader, a security official may ensure that a seal has not been tampered with or replaced. A multi-lingual and bi-colour passive RF display will be installed onto each door of the trolley, for a visual indication of the seal status. Alternatively, a RFID reader may be used for an automatic, long range inspection.
RFID — improving aviation security
Galley trolleys have been the weakest aviation security link, but a new high-tech lock is making them secure.
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.