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Sub-Project B: Simulating airport procedures for enhanced safetythrough simulation of airport processes

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Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Preventive passenger, luggage and cargo controls were reinforced steadily and remain indispensable in the future to ensure secure air traffic and the defence against terrorist attacks but also against increasingly violent passengers. However, the majority of passengers is annoyed by these controls, which represent waiting times and partially even attacks on privacy for them. Despite the time these controls consume, they also represent a cost factor that has to be paid by the tax payer or passenger. These effects will increase further because the air traffic will grow significantly in the following years. An optimization of the handling process, which still meets all the security standards, could lead to cost reductions despite the increasing passenger numbers.


The objective of S2 Sub-Project B was to illustrate possibilities and measures for the optimization of the handling process on airports. It was focused on how to increase security in air traffic without negative impacts on capacity and passenger comfort. In the framework of the research project, it was analysed to which extent innovative technologies and processes can be integrated into existing procedures and which impacts that would have on capacity, security and passenger comfort. As a support, a process simulation was used.


The project consisted of five different work packages, which were defined together with the other project partners in the beginning. At first the necessary basis was developed.  After analysing existing technologies and processes, different assessment methods were analysed. Afterwards, scenarios and possibilities for application were defined, which contained innovative concepts like the integration of biometrical processes during passenger handling. The next step was the technological concept development. Here, it was focused on the integration of different simulation models. The following work package dealt with the definition of the simulation environment and its implementation, so that the previously defined scenarios concerning the different parameters could be examined. The focus was the assessment of the impact of additional or alternative security controls on capacity, delays and the overall security level. Finally, the results were transferred to the specification of a prototype, which served as a demonstrator and was supposed to prove the viability and practicality of the innovative technologies.


Other Programme
Aeronautics Research 3
Funding Source
Ministry of Economics and Technology (now Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy


Most German airports already operate closely to the capacity limit. Some already reached their capacity limit. The most conservative estimate of growth of air traffic amounts to 3.7% per year until 2015, which led to a passenger volume that would make all except for two German airports reach or surpass the terminal capacity. The question about how to find a way out and which approaches exist, comes up.

The easiest but not cheapest or most practical way represented the construction of new airports, which however is no option for Germany. Shifting air traffic can represent an alternative like for instance in the case of Frankfurt Main and Frankfurt-Hahn, which is a so-called satellite airport. Also, handling facilities (city terminals) could be constructed in the inner cities. Another alternative would be to shift short distance traffic to the rail. This approach does of course only create free capacities in short distance air traffic. Still, the major approach is the expansion of airports, which likewise represented high costs and only in some cases remains an alternative because of the lack of space. However, these alternatives are to be evaluated positively.

A further approach could be to limit growth but this option is not to be considered further. Accordingly, the option of optimizing processes remains. This option bears much potential to solve future capacity issues. For instance one vision of General Electric is the “Tunnel of Truth”, which carried integration and automation too far. After putting the luggage on the line, the luggage is scanned with the x-ray and checked for explosives. Then the passangers enter an identification point, which identifies them according to biometrical traits. While the passenger walks through the aisle the back scatter x-ray scans him or her and is controlled for explosives. All this is fully automated and only if no clear results are delivered by the automated control, there is a follow-up inspection. This example illustrates that through integration and automation the passenger handling process can be designed in a comfortable way fort he passengers.

This leads to the question who actually advances such developments. Two perspective on which player represents the driving force exists. One possibility is that the industry itself represents the driving force and looks for new innovative approaches. Examples could be profiling, the trusted passenger program and numerous biometrical applications. The legislation represents the counterbalance because it states legal concerns, which are to be followed, or prevents the introduction of new technologies. A well-known case concerning this is CAPPS II, which was stopped because of data protection concerns. The other perspective is exactly opposite. Here, the legislation demands that certain standards are met by the industry. This is for instance the case with the luggage to be fully checked, certain standards for the identification rate of biometrical facilities or minimum quantities to be detected during the controls for explosives. The counterbalance of this perspective is the industry that could step back from innovating because of the high investition costs to meet the legal requirements. Also there may be operational concerns because of potential capacity losses due to high security standards. Naturally, neither the one or the other perspective is fully right so that the future challenge is to bring together both perspectives.

Findings of the study are published in detail by a final report (German only) which is available online via


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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