Facing steadily increasing passenger numbers and ongoing terroristic threats, passenger screening in air traffic is a big challenge. The controls must ensure security at the highest level, meet international requirements and be economically feasible. In order to meet future requirements and to continue to improve passenger screenings, new strategies for the selection and training of security staff are needed.
The goal of DEFAKTOS is to improve the skills, cognitive abilities and working conditions of the security screeners. Passenger screenings are to be further optimized, so that the security screeners can better meet future challenges and maintain a high level of security at airports.
On the basis of the current work requirements, interviews are carried out and the competencies of the control personnel are determined. The results are evaluated and integrated into a concept for additional training.
The entire process of passenger screening is considered within the project. The role of the security staff is evaluated under aspects of the technology to be operated (human - machine), behaviour patterns (human - human), working conditions and expected future challenges. The solutions resulting from the project are directly used in the selection as well as the training process of airport security staff.
Within the project, an article about the research was published in the journal “Frontiers in Psychology” (abstract): “Aviation security screeners analyse a large number of X-ray images per day and seem to be experts in mentally rotating diverse kinds of visual objects. A robust gender-effect that men outperform women in the Vandenberg & Kuse mental rotation task has been well documented over the last years. In addition, it has been shown that training can positively influence the overall task-performance. Considering this, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether security screeners show better performance in the Mental Rotation Test (MRT) independently of gender. Forty-seven security screeners of both sexes from two German airports were examined with a computer based MRT. Their performance was compared to a large sample of control subjects. The well-known gender-effect favouring men on mental rotation was significant within the control group. However, the security screeners did not show any sex differences suggesting an effect of training and professional performance. Surprisingly this specialized group showed a lower level of overall MRT performance than the control participants. Possible aviation related influences such as secondary effects of work-shift or expertise which can cumulatively cause this result are discussed.”
Findings of the study are published in detail by several final reports of the project partners (German only) which are available online via the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB):
Ruhr-Universität Bochum -Institut für Kognitive Neurowissenschaft