D/FW Completes Test Phase on Security-Engineered Revolving Exit Door

Dallas/Fort Worth Int'l Airport (DFW) is completing the test phase on what appears to be the country's first security-engineered revolving exit door.

The reasons that exit security has become particularly irritating to airport operators is now legion -- the threat of terrorists trying to sneak over to the secure side competes with innocent breaches by grandmotherly types who simply don't realize where they're going. With TSA now insisting that airports are responsible for exit areas during non-peak hours, airports are having to divert more of their own staff to make sure nobody goes through the wrong way.

A minority of U.S. facilities -- but with DFW among them -- have a little more to worry about. This is because their terminal design makes things particularly easy for arriving passengers. Each DFW terminal is in a horseshoe shape, with a higher-than-average number of baggage claim areas positioned a short walk away from the arrival gates. To control egress but still allow passengers to quickly move from the secure gate areas into the non-secure baggage-claim areas, DFW uses revolving doors. This type of layout means there are a lot of revolving doors -- well over 30, says DFW Executive Vice President Clay Paslay.

Each revolving exit door at DFW also needs at least one guard, whose job description is essentially limited to spotting people trying to sneak themselves or objects through the doors the "wrong way" (from the non-secure side to the secure gate area) -- working conditions not exactly conducive to the best mental vigilance.

So, DFW purchased one $140,000 Boon Edam airport security Duotour last June for a test in the Terminal C-14 area. Any day now, that test will be officially over, Paslay says. Then the airport will decide whether to replace the rest of its revolving exit doors with security doors, and whether to buy them from Boon Edam or from other firms.

The door at DFW is essentially the same Duotour product that has been available for a while, but now has many more security features built into it, says Mark Borto, Boon Edam's vice president of sales. From casual outward appearances, the new door looks pretty similar to the old.

This is the first revolving airport door equipped with security sensors installed anywhere in North America, Borto adds. But Boon Edam has installed two others, at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) in Germany, and at Newcastle Airport (NCL) in the United Kingdom, Borto tells Airport Security Report.

For the test at DFW, Pierce, Goodwin, Alexander & Linville did the project design, with testing installation provided by a consortium known as DFWIA Integrated Partners.

Like its counterpart devices that are in the form of portals, such as ADT Security Systems's xControl (Airport Security Report, July 27), the new Duotour has several features to detect someone trying to go through the wrong way, including floor sensors and safety rails that when activated, stop the door.

Also like a portal, there are features aimed at detecting small objects that someone is attempting to slip through to the secure side. But unlike a portal, the revolving door would lock down and prevent the object from actually getting through.

Someone could attempt to use the Duotour like a "lazy susan" and tape the object to one of the revolving panels. But these would be detected by the Duotour's "light curtains," which are actually a light-beam sensor that scans the door's glass panels, DFW's Paslay says.

Then again, the light curtain is only one of about five or six additional sensors on this version of the Duotour designed to prevent objects from getting in the wrong way, Boon Edam's Borto says.

The new door also has extra features designed to make sure that its lock- down mode doesn't inadvertently trap innocent passengers. For example, DFW had a recent incident where this happened to a mother with a small child in a stroller, Paslay tells Airport Security Report. The mother didn't think that both she and the stroller would fit into one of the door's three compartments, so she put the stroller in the compartment ahead of her, letting the door push the stroller through. However, the stroller kept right on going until it started heading back in toward the secure area. That tripped a sensor and an alarm, locking the door, and trapping both mom and her child inside it.

Boon Edam's door, however, has only two compartments. These are separated by an extra pie wedge between the compartments on each side, so there is never an open angle when the door presents a straight shot through from one side to the other.

In addition, once the door detects a problem, it can be set to slowly reverse direction on its own.

As an additional layer of security to limit the "backflow" of people on the non-secure side, DFW installed the door in front of a narrow 16-foot corridor. The corridor allows for video surveillance of the exit area with a fixed camera.

>>Contact: Clay Paslay, DFW, 972-574-8787, cpaslay@dfwairport.com; Mark Borto, Boon Edam, (910) 814-3800, markb@boonedam.com

[Copyright 2005 Access Intelligence, LLC. All rights reserved.]

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