Protecting Aircraft from the Insider Threat

Flightdeck Door Security using a single ultra wide angle Latecoere camera

“In these modern times, passengers are used to being under video surveillance for a large proportion of their day and expect to be under surveillance from the time they enter the airport until they leave. It would probably surprise them to know that when inside the aircraft they are no longer under the security net of video cameras.
Mike Horne gives us some explanations and predictions of where the aircraft video security market is headed.”

A tier 1 partner to major international aircraft manufacturers and a leader in the field of Aerostructures and Interconnection systems, Latécoère has designed and developed modern networked closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera solutions to counter a continuing threat to the airline industry. Several larger OEMs have shown interest, and comprehensive video security systems are starting to appear on commercial airlines worldwide. Cameras can be placed anywhere within the passenger cabin, in cargo areas, in inaccessible avionic bay areas, or on the outside of the aircraft to monitor loading and unloading operations and passenger movement.

Connected through a dedicated high-speed fibre-optic Ethernet network, 4k H264/H265 high resolution cameras, Smart monitors and digital video recorder / servers can be identified and monitored using their location, and the system can be customised to suit individual threats and airline needs. Useful information such as time, tail number, and camera location can be recorded with the video data, and triggers either from video analysis or by a simple event button can be used to start and stop recording. Video data can be accessed using these markers for easier analysis.

Specific airline needs that have been addressed by Latécoère in recent times include the following examples:

a)   An airline was experiencing reports of theft from passenger bags. Covert cameras were placed in the cargo bay set to record whenever the cargo doors were open. The cameras were not viewed in real-time or on-board the aircraft at all, but recordings were regularly downloaded and reviewed by security staff at the airline’s head office. Four times the number of reported thefts were detected and the ground staff dealt with. This led to a reduction in losses and a far better response to passenger complaints.

b)   An airline was concerned by the levels of Air Rage being reported on flights and was worried about their “duty of care” to their flight crews. Cameras were placed throughout the passenger cabin, with monitors in forward and rear galleys. A small recorder was placed in the Avionics Bay, with an Event Button to start recording located next to the Flight Attendant monitors. Recordings could be used for prosecution, but the simple presence of a camera system was enough to substantially reduce levels of Air Rage.

c)   A cargo airline was experiencing high costs for manually checking freight holds for stowaways before each flight. A camera system including sophisticated motion detection algorithms and infra-red lighting was installed on the freighter and the pictures were viewed in real time by the flight crew, enabling a check without entering the cargo area.

d)   An airline was trying to reduce its insurance costs by preventing damage to aircraft from collisions with ground vehicles during loading and unloading operations. Video recordings of ground-based operations from external cameras were enough to identify the handlers responsible, and for the airline to reduce their liability.

e)   An airline was experiencing theft and damage to the aircraft interior while waiting unattended at the gate. It was not clear whether cleaning staff were responsible, or whether non-authorised personnel were gaining entry to the gate area. A system of on-board cameras connected to a Wi-Fi transmitter at the gate and a digital video recorder allowed quick and easy recognition and resolution of the problem, by an office-based security team. Through standard internet connections this team could be located anywhere.

Since 9/11, security cameras around the flight deck door have become commonplace and extending that system to cover the remainder of the aircraft is a logical step in improving security throughout the airline industry. Next would be the integration of cameras into the flight deck with recordings saved on a crash-protected recorder.

Integrated cabin surveillance systems are now being proposed by OEMs in their newly developed aircraft to address airlines’ needs. It is inevitable that the use of these systems will continue to grow, and that passengers will gain an increased sense of security. Latécoère is currently completing the development of a fully integrated, scalable and modular surveillance system for use by OEMs, Airlines and MROs worldwide.

Mike Horne is UK based Business Development Manager for Latécoère and has worked in video on aircraft since 1997. Latécoère will be displaying their fully integrated, scalable and modular surveillance system at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg 2-4 April 2019. Mike is also General Manager of the newly formed UK subsidiary, Latécoère Interconnection Systems UK Ltd.

This article is based on the article published in Aviation Security International magazine 

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