With the aim of simplifying and securitising even more, the control of passengers and their luggage at airports, Morpho, a Safran Group subsidiary, has developed many innovative concepts. Some have already been sold, others will be next year. To find out more we went on a brief tour of the Morpho Detection headquarters in Newark, not far from San Francisco, California.
This machine, called the CTX 5800, scans your luggage from all angles and cuts it, virtually, into 200 different slices. Using X-ray diffraction technology, combined with an algorithm, any illicit substances found in your luggage then show up in red on the monitor, allowing security officers to detect explosives, drugs and even banknotes in seconds.
Karen Bomba, CEO- Morpho Detection ( Safran Group):''Each piece of equipment, when it leaves here, we can change the configuration to meet the needs on what it is they specifically want to detect. It depends upon which agencies or government agency that we're selling them to.''
Fifty or so, are already in service throughout the world. Another innovation is this walk-through detection checkpoint. It has not yet been sold to airports, but is already in use in all U.S. nuclear power plants. Equipped with small fans that capture and analyze the transported particulate matter ( fine particles for the less scientific amongst us ), the system detects any traces of explosives present on the body or clothes. Thanks to this prototype, in course of being certified, but which should enter service next year, the prohibition in aircraft cabins of liquids over 100 ml. could well be lifted.
Cameron Ritchie, Chief Technology Officer - Morpho Detection ( Safran Group): "The primary purpose is to use beams of X-rays that scatter off materials in the piece of luggage. That scatter signature will tell you if the materials are innocent or a threat and that the bag needs to be opened and inspected.''
This is done by calculation of the molecular weight of the contents of the bottles to determine whether or not they are dangerous. Finally, on the future technology side, there are also biometric recognition and 3D imaging technologies. Soon, the identification of passengers from their fingerprints, the iris of their eyes, or facial features, will take less than a second. With all these innovations, the "checkpoint" of the future could save, on average, 30% of departing passengers' time, and further strengthen security at airports.