Airport Security Term Paper
The planning and development of an airport must take into account several aspects and components such as legalization, ownership structures, and commercial or service performance. Other factors include an airfield, terminal buildings, surface access, and airport security. Each of these factors plays a significant role in the effectiveness and efficiency of an airport. Terminal buildings, in particular, are critical infrastructures in an airport since they are the first and the last impression a passenger will have of a state, province, county, or country (HOK 2018).
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for instance, handled up to 104 million passengers in 2017, while Beijing Capital International handled 94.4 million (O’Hare 2017). Since terminals are entry and exit points for several passengers, they can contribute to create a positive lasting impression about a country, airport, or city. While an airport’s terminal serves many functions, the building’s design must put an emphasis not just on its operational functionality but also on its layout, so as to create an overall captivating experience to the passengers.
Airport transport is the safest means of travelling as compared to alternative modes of transportation. However, terrorists and other criminals have continuously targeted the industry (Nowacki & Paszukow 2018, p. 187). Consequently, security in the airport is a top priority. No matter how aesthetically appealing or efficient an airport can be, passengers and airlines will avoid it if there are no adequate security measures. Studies have shown that terrorists find airports as “soft targets” and are therefore prone to attack them. According to Duchesneau and Langlois (2017), there have been a total of 635 aviation-related terrorist attacks in airports between 1931 and 2016, with 6,814 deaths (p. 344). Planning and developing airport terminals and adequate security measures requires the adoption of best practices in the aviation industry. In this case, two airports will be compared as regarding the aspects of terminal building and security. The selected airports are London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 and Dubai International Airport Terminal 3.
⦁ London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 (T5)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (T5) is a terminal located in Heathrow Airport and is designated the IATA code LHR (World Airport Codes, 2018). In 2017, the airport handled a total of 78 million passengers with an average of 213,668 per day. Although the airport has five terminals, it is currently operating four because Terminal 1 has been closed. In 2017, the passenger volume for each terminal in millions was Terminal 2 (16.5), Terminal 3 (17.7), Terminal 4 (9.5), and Terminal 5 (31.9) (LHR Airport Ltd 2018). A comparison of the number of flights handled by each terminal is shown in Fig. 1. From the graph, it is evident that T5 handled not only the largest volume of passengers but also the largest volume of flights.
it can be seen that the capacities of terminals are not the same. Since T5 is the latest, and used by one airline only, it is necessary to expand the terminals in the future. However, the terminal concepts used do not allow for expansion without interfering with the air traffic. Consequently, a new airport may have to be built in another place in the future.
⦁ Dubai International Terminal 3
Dubai International Airport is an airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai and its designated IATA code is DXB (World Airport Codes 2018). The terminal is exclusively dedicated to the Emirates. In 2017, Dubai International Airport handled 88 million passengers (Saadi 2018). The Airport has held the title of Asia’s busiest airport for four consecutive times. The terminal also has the world’s largest underground baggage handling system (Kabe Farben n.d.). The airport consists of three terminals: Terminal 1 has a capacity to handle 20 million passengers, Terminal 2 can serve up to 5 million passengers, and finally Terminal 3 can handle 60-75 million passengers per annum (Dubai Airport 2018). The number of passengers handled annually by the three terminals is presented in Fig. 2.
Similar to the case of LHR T5, the Dubai international Airport may also face a congestion problem in the future since T1 and T2 handles a small capacity of passengers. Although T3 handles many passengers and aircraft, it is used by one airline. Therefore, the solution will be to build more terminals in the future or build another airport. The terminal concepts used in the airport allow for expansion. Additional concourses may be added to T1.
⦁ Detailed Comparison of LHR T5 and DXB T3
2.1. Airlines Served
Both terminals are dedicated to airline carriers. While T5 of LHR is exclusively used by the British Airways and Iberia (British Airways 2012; Heathrow Terminal 5 2015), T3 of DXB serves only Emirates (Dubai Airport 2018). Serving one airline may be an advantage to the airline but it may lead to poor utilization of a terminal when the airline is not busy.
2.2. Construction Technology
Both T5 and T3 are state-of-the-art terminals which have been designed and constructed using modern technology. They are both aesthetically appealing and have unique architectural designs. While the two terminals are magnificent architectural designs, not all passengers get a chance to experience since the terminals serve only one airline.
Terminal 3 at Dubai Airport has several facilities that include lounges, hotels, and business centers for meetings and events, including health clubs (Dubai International Hotel 2018). It also counts on several lifts and ramps that provide easy access throughout the terminal. Additional amenities include a state-of-the-art medical center, quiet rooms, prayer rooms, currency exchange centers, ATMs, and post offices (Emirates 2018). Some of the services and facilities at Heathrow Airport terminal 5 are very similar to those found at Terminal 3: they include currency exchange centers, internet facilities, post box, telephones, cash machines, and multi-faith prayer rooms (London Heathrow Guide 2018). Moreover, T5 provides the passengers with baby care, bag wrapping, business services, bars and restaurants, car parking, chapel, duty-free shopping, and hotel transfer buses (Heathrow Airport Ltd 2018). Hence, T5 seems to offer more services than T3. But, all in all, the terminals have almost the same facilities and services. In the meetings and events section of T3, there are several other services which include secretarial, photocopying, internet access, lamination and binding, faxing, printing scanning, telephone facilities, and business centers. T5, instead, does not have a meetings and events section that contains all such services. British Airways, Iberia, and Emirates passengers have the opportunity to enjoy these services. The aesthetic environment witness in the T5 and T3 cannot match the other terminals showing that not all passengers transiting the airports enjoy the experience.
2.4. Terminal Concepts
London Heathrow Airport employs a hybrid combination of satellite, pier, and semi-circular design concepts. Terminal 5’s main building uses the curvilinear concept, with aircrafts parking all around the front of the terminal including the sides of the building (Appendix 1, Fig. 3). However, its concourses have been designed using a satellite concept (Appendix 1, Fig. 3). Terminal 2 & 3 have been designed with a pier concept (Appendix 1, Fig. 4). Dubai International Airport Terminal 2 is designed with a curvilinear concept similar to London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 (Appendix 2, Fig. 5), while Terminal 1 has been designed with a linear concept (Appendix 2, Fig. 6). Yet, Terminal 3 of DXB (Appendix 3, Fig. 7) and its concourses (Appendix 3, Fig. 8) have been designed with a purely satellite concept. Each design concept presents advantages and disadvantages. The satellite concept, for example, provides a good space for the servicing of the aircrafts, and has the advantage of offering centralized positioning of resources such as amenities, facilities, and humans. Additionally, satellites can be reconfigured to accommodate future developments in aircraft designs. On the other side, it requires a larger apron space and a longer distance to access it. Moreover, it has the disadvantage of requiring means for transporting people to the terminals. And since high technology is necessary to develop an underground transportation system, the satellite concept is costlier due to high maintenance, capital, and operating costs (Pah 2007, p. 10). Pier concept, instead, has all gates in one roof, maintains direct contact with central processing area, and is more compact. However, it allows for smaller parking space, longer distances, and a high chance of congestion. The linear concept is simple to access and makes the loading of passenger bridges easier. But the main disadvantage is in the long walking distances. Finally, the curvilinear or open concept allows for shorter walking distances; hence, many passengers can be served from a very short frontage. It also allows for easier expansion, and an optimized location for the apron. However, it is necessary to improve passenger transport and apron capacity. Plus, because more employees may be required to operate the buses, the latter need to be made more reliable.
2.5. Transfer between terminals
Heathrow T5 has been designed to allow easy transfer to other terminals. And in fact, one has the option of using a bus or rail to transfer to other terminals. T3 of DXb, instead, has been constructed in a position which makes it easier to connect it only to Terminal 1 since they share a common transit area. The airside passengers are free to move between the terminals without having to pass through the immigration section. However, T2 in DXB is constructed on the opposite side of the airport, making the use of a shuttle necessary. The terminals are located far from others, and therefore there is a high chance of a passenger getting lost while trying to connect another flight. The available means of connecting the terminals is buses. What if the passengers are too many to be handled by buses? In such a case, it may cause delays.
Heathrow T5 and Dubai International T3 have ample parking space for cars. While T3 has a capacity of 2,600 spaces, T5 has 3,800 parking spaces for cars and additional space for buses, motor cycles, and valet parking facilities. Thus, T5 has a higher space for parking as compared with T3. The parking facilities are close to high traffic areas and they are a security risk. Advanced screening equipment for motor vehicles ought to be installed at the entrance.
2.7. Access transport means.
Both terminals T5 in Heathrow and T3 in Dubai International Airport are well-connected with various transportation options. At Heathrow, one can access T5 in various ways such as railway link, motorway spur, bus links, personal rapid transit system, and automated people mover. Usually, an automated people mover is located underground, and it can carry up to about 6,000 passengers in one hour. As to T3 in Dubai Airport, one can access it by using taxis, bus, and the Dubai Metro. So, T5 can count on a more elaborate transportation system both inside and outside the terminal. Both airports have elaborate transport network comprising several options for entering and leaving the airport. The diversity of transport means helps in case one system fails.
2.8. Communication facilities
Heathrow T5 has elaborate communication facilities that comprise Wi-Fi connectivity, pay phones, and free power poles to charge phones, tablets, and laptops. However, it does not have post boxes and fax services; the latter are only available in the lounge. T3 is equipped with various communication facilities which include internet access, faxing, telephone facilities, audio-visual aids, and post office. This suggests that, while T3 has some similar facilities with T5, it has a greater variety.
2.9. Leisure and relaxation facilities
Heathrow T5 contains various leisure as well as relaxation activities which comprise a gallery, spa services, seating, views of the runaway, duty-free shops, worship facilities, prayer rooms, and restaurants. It also includes a play area and other child-friendly facilities. On the other hand, T3 in Dubai International Airport has a health club known as G-Force Health Club, which consists in massage rooms, steam rooms, swimming pool, jacuzzis, resistance and cardiovascular machines, saunas, and so forth. Other facilities include prayer rooms, quiet rooms, a medical centre, and restaurants. Furthermore, T3 counts with various lounges that offer maximum comfort and provide all the amenities to its passengers. So, while both terminals offer a variety of services, T3 Dubai appears to be more focused in having a wide range of facilities associated with leisure and relaxation.
2.10. Processing technology
Heathrow T5 employs sophisticated technology for bag handling and handling of passengers. It has a self-service technology for customer check-in. Through self-service boarding gates passengers are allowed to check-in individually, reducing queues. The terminal employs an automated biometric technology to serve its customers efficiently. Furthermore, T5 features self-service bag drops for less queuing as well as for faster check-ins (British Airways 2017).
2.11. Wayfinding system
Heathrow uses a variety of wayfinding technologies to help people get to where they want as fast and as smoothly as possible. The wayfinding tools include lights, directional signs, colors, and other graphics. Dubai International Airport also uses wayfinding tools to help passengers arrive at their destinations faster and smoothly. These tools include an alphanumeric system, directional signs, colors, and mobile wayfinding. The Omni-channel solutions at Dubai Airport are a software based technology that can be available to passengers through their phones, personal computers, and tablets (Business Wire 2017). This wayfinding tool, available to over 80 million passengers, sets DXB apart. In both terminals, there is limited options for wayfinding for the visually impaired. The wayfinding is also limited to graphics. Colors mean different things to different people, and this may create confusion.
⦁ Airport Security Systems
3.1. London Heathrow Airport
LHR has an elaborate security system to inspect luggage as well as passengers passing through the airport. The airport’s security system is highly integrated and comprises human, organizational, and technological barriers to exceed the requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Such security system also offers protection services to the airport as well as assistance to the flights while in transit. The UK Government is the major security provider of the airport. The UK Border Force in the airport plays a key role in controlling illegal activities such as import and export of prohibited goods or trafficking of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. On their part, the Aviation Security Operational Command Unit under the Metropolitan Police Service is concerned with all aspects of policing at the airport (Stranden 2014). This Unit’s policemen conduct patrols inside and outside the airport to control any likely terrorist threats, and they also work closely with members of the public who report suspicious activities. The major airlines such as British Airways also have a role in ensuring security measures at terminal 5, where they operate. In the recent security upgrade, the British Airways, for instance, installed a sophisticated 3D X-ray machine for screening passengers and staff (Daily Mail 2018). Additionally, several security companies have been licensed to operate within the airport, and they are in various ways committed to ensure adequate security for passengers, staff, and equipment.
Before accessing the departure lounge, passengers are required to pass the Heathrow security control, which screens passengers and luggage for any possible security-risk equipment or devices they may be carrying. The screening devices identify prohibited items such as liquids, sharps, and other forbidden items. The equipment includes body scanners as well as baggage scanners. The airport is also under the care of the Metropolitan Police who provide patrols and prompt responses in case there is a report or suspicion of insecurity (Heathrow Airport Ltd 2018). The police can request for reinforcement from the army. Moreover, the airport has access control systems for staff and other humans to restrict entry to unauthorized places (CEM Systems 2018).
3.2. Dubai International Airport
Similar to Heathrow, the security system at DXB is also highly integrated and comprises advanced technology and people working to ensure that there is adequate security for passengers and equipment in the airport. The sophisticated security equipment installed at DXB, however, are quite different from those used at Heathrow. The airport management recommended the installation of face-scanning virtual aquariums as part of their security measures (Ong 2017). The virtual aquarium is designed to be like a tunnel but lined with 80 powerful face-recognition cameras that screen passengers as they pass. However, the application of this technology has been challenged in courts when Google and Facebook tried to use it. The airport also features an IP-based video surveillance system with over 1,000 cameras (Genetec 2018). In total, DXB counts with about 8,000 cameras which pick video and photo images from various points. The airport also has a biometric system, although the use of biometric systems to handle many passengers in the future has been criticized (Marcellin 2018). The government provides security within and around the airport facility. Furthermore, there are other security companies that have been licensed to offer specific security solutions. Hence, to conclude, while there are differences between the technologies in the security systems of Heathrow and DXB, both have strived to address the unique needs of each region as well as to meet the highest possible standards.
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