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News

Security in airport terminal design

TPS Consult : 07 May, 2009  (Technical Article)
TPS expert in security and explosion effects briefs attendees of the Passenger Terminal Expo on design considerations for airport passenger terminal design
Security in airport terminal design
TPS has provided insight into how effective counter-terrorist security requirements can be incorporated into airport terminal design by introducing contemporary thinking on the gap in provisions currently made in design and security.

Darius Aibara, an Associate Director with TPS's Security and Explosion Effects team, featured as one of the keynote speakers at 2009's Passenger Terminal Expo; a three-day annual event held this Spring at London's ExCel centre.

TPS (part of Carillion plc) shed light on how practical means of protecting airport terminals, staff and passengers from terrorist attack can be employed without necessarily turning terminals into either fortresses or bunkers. "Sometimes security is considered as a secondary issue rather than a central driver in airport terminal design," Aibara explained. "The session emphasised that in order to protect public areas and buildings against terrorist attack security issues must be in the forefront of any decisions made when constructing new airports or terminals."

The TPS seminar, part of a conference stream focusing specifically on aviation and airport security, attracted airport operators, airport equipment suppliers, designers, security managers, commercial aviation professionals and aviation security professionals. TPS offered a timely opportunity to address a wide array of concerns - particularly in light of recent events in the UK such as the Glasgow Airport attack, coupled with the ongoing general worldwide terrorist threat.

Drawing on examples from some of their most recent airport terminal projects such as Heathrow Terminal 5, TPS discussed potential terrorist threats along with the UK Department for Transport's aviation security requirements, and how these are implemented in the design of terminal structures, facades, interiors and associated infrastructure such as car parks and public transport hubs. This was illustrated with actual examples and video footage of live blast tests.

Aibara received questions related to underground parking, railway stations and the nature of the bomb threat. He explained that, because the consequences of an explosion in a confined space such as an underground car park are greater than those due to the same explosion in the open air, structural damage and human injury will be much more severe and the impact on the operation of the airport will be greater.

"The answer is to avoid the need for underground parking or delivery roads (i.e. eliminate the risk) or to provide effective security access and egress control to these spaces, including the use of anti-ram barriers." said Aibara.

TPS also supported general agreement that more attention needs to be paid to the understated security issue of the arriving passenger, as currently conventional thinking has placed the emphasis primarily on the security issues related to departing passengers. "Reliance is placed on the security regimes at the airports of origin, which may not be that good," explains Aibara, "Thus there exists a potential risk of a security breach or attack from an arriving passenger."

Aibara followed the event by introducing TPS colleague Dr Colin Morrison at a meeting of the Institution of Structural Engineers in April. The presentation, on the subject of 'Design for the effects of Blast on Glazed Facades" was held at the University of Surrey, England.

TPS' Security & Explosion Effects division offers an unparalleled level of expertise in the protection of assets against terrorist attack, particularly with respect to airport terminal design. Over the last 15 years TPS has been involved in the blast enhancement of all five terminals at London Heathrow Airport, as well as at Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh airports, and at other UK and overseas terminal developments.

Darius Aibara has more than 23 years' experience in the design and construction of buildings and civil engineering structures. His recent responsibilities include the design management and day-to-day organisation of the structural and security design of a large UK Government communications headquarters, as well as specialist design of blast-enhanced structures for the UK Government, Armed Forces and a number of commercial clients.

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