Tech Bytes

April 18, 2007
The latest tech news for April 2007.

  • ARINC Direct announces it will add streamlined APIS (Advance Passenger Information System) reporting and verification services to its portfolio of flight services for business aviation. The new capabilities will be provided through a partnership with SecureTRANSIT, Inc., a leading provider of APIS services for commercial airlines. ARINC Direct will integrate the APIScontrol and APISadvisor applications of SecureTRANSIT into its standard flight services portfolio.
  • Meanwhile, ARINC also has contracted with Edmo Distributors of Spokane, WA to handle the wholesale distribution of its ARINC eFlyBookTM document viewer to the general aviation market. Edmo is the world's largest distributor of aircraft electronics, with a network of 9,000 active resellers. The eFlyBook viewer is easier to read, with an "electronic paper" display visible under any lighting conditions used by pilots to store and read electronic documents.

  • American Science and Engineer-ing, Inc. announces a contract awarded from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for its second generation Z PortalTM system for drive-through cargo and vehicle screening. Configured with proprietary three-sided Z Backscatter imaging, the Z Portal will be deployed at a security checkpoint to inspect for threats and contraband at a strategic DOD facility.

AS&E creates Z Backscatter images showing organic materials by directing a sweeping beam of x-rays at the object under examination, and then measuring and plotting the intensity of scattered x-rays as a function of the beam position, revealing the threats including explosives, plastic weapons, and drugs.

  • Other news from AS&E: The SmartCheck ‘backscatter' system, an x-ray security scanner that can see through clothing, had its first live test February 23rd at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and could be rolled out at Los Angeles International Airport and New York's JFK International Airport by year's end. TSA began using backscatters to screen airline passengers for weapons. The machines have been modified with a "privacy algorithm" to address privacy issues.

During the pilot program, the machine will be used only as a secondary screening measure; passengers who fail the standard screening process will be able to choose between the new device and a typical pat-down search.
Blue Sky Network announces the expansion to its aviation product line with the D2000MA/MDA, a compact carry-on flight tracking device. It supplies customers with real-time position reporting of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and provides continuous text messaging and short code reporting between pilots and ground crew.
After nearly spending four years and more than $1 billion, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented entry capabilities at most ports of entry; however, it has not implemented a biometric exit capability or a suitable alternative.

As of December 2006, U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) had deployed and was operating entry capability at 115 airports, 14 seaports, and 154 of 170 land ports of entry. According to program officials, testing and analysis of a non-biometric solution identified numerous performance and reliability problems, and such an alternative technology does not meet legislative requirements. DHS projects that advances over the next five to ten years will allow solutions that do not require major infrastructure changes, but the prospects for such technology remain uncertain.
The FLO Alliance (Fast Lane Option) has announced that Huntsville International Airport (HSV) has selected FLO to develop the airport's Registered Traveler program, marking the continued expansion of the RT program in the U.S. The news of FLO's first airport customer comes just after the company received TSA certification as an RT vendor in January. The FLO Alliance's biometrically secured FLO card will allow qualified individuals to take advantage of expedited security screening procedures in designated lanes at participating airports as well as promotional offers and discounts offered by retail partners.
Clear® Registered Traveler has announced that the Albany County (NY) Airport Authority unanimously selected the company to launch the registered traveler program at the airport, expected in the next 60 days, once an agreement is finalized. Clear allows business travelers and other frequent fliers to pay a fee ($99.95) to be pre-screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and receive a biometric identity card that provides them with expedited passage through airport security checkpoints.
The Government Accountability Office has testified that the Joint Planning and Development Office has made progress in several areas in its planning of the NextGen initiative, but continues to face a number of challenges. Leadership turnover at JPDO and the institute that facilitates the participation of nonfederal stakeholders have raised concerns about the JPDO's stability and the impact of the turnovers on its progress. Stakeholders have concerns about the productivity of some integrated product teams and the pace of the planning effort. In response, JPDO officials are currently proposing several changes to JPDO's organizational structure.

JPDO has also made progress toward releasing several key planning documents on a revised and extended timeline — in some cases — and has moved forward in developing cost estimates for NextGen. Recent reports estimate the total federal cost for NextGen infrastructure through 2025 will range between $15 to $22 billion. Questions remain over which entities will fund and conduct some of the necessary research, development, and demonstration projects.

GAO notes that JPDO has an ongoing challenge of ensuring the involvement of all key stakeholders. Issues have also arisen over whether conflict of interest issues may hamper participation by industry stakeholders.
International RAM Associates (RAM) announces the formation of RAM-Technical Services Group (RAM-TSG), providing electronic and physical security solutions to aviation, commercial, and government clients. RAM-TSG is comprised of industry professionals bringing more than 30 years of experience in the design, fabrication, installation, and maintenance of security and IT solutions.
ITT Corporation announces that a team led by the company is one of three chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration to submit a proposal for a major air traffic control system modernization program. The modernization program, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), is the first building block of the Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NGATS), due to be completed by 2025. In its ADS-B pursuit, ITT has teamed with AT&T, Thales, WSI, SAIC, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Sunhillo, and Aerospace Engineering.
The Transportation Security Administration announces the deployment of two Reveal explosives detection systems (EDS) for screening checked baggage at Wichita (KS) Mid-Continent Airport (ICT).

As of January 2007, TSA has deployed 112 Reveal machines at a total of 37 airports, including at the original pilot locations. The two EDS machines at ICT will be located between the Delta Connection and US Airways ticket counters. The Reveal systems, specifically designed for use at small- to medium-sized airports, cost approximately $350,000 each.
California-based Sago Systems, Inc. has announced its first international sales to Australia. The company's passive millimeter-wave security products range from the aPatTM — a hand-held weapons and explosives detector — to the iPatTM — a whole body, walk-up imager. Sago's patented imagers are radiation-free and have attracted international attention because they meet the requirements of public health and privacy
Siemens introduces Sibag Smart, a modular baggage handling system for smaller airports. With the Sibag Smart solution, Siemens Industrial Solutions and Services offers a modular, pre-installed baggage handling system that is suitable for use in airports with an annual volume of up to four million airline passengers. Siemens presented the Sibag Smart for the first time at this year's Passenger Terminal Expo in Barcelona.

(Tech Bytes are compiled by associate editor David Mantey; reach him at [email protected].)