Tech Bytes: Lessons Learned - BOS Peer Review

Jan. 10, 2007
Consultant offers insights from a recent Peer Review meeting at Boston Logan International Airport which focused on security.

In October the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) hosted a peer review session that marked the completion of the largest capital undertaking in the history of Boston Logan International Airport. The $1 billion-plus project, spanning more than a decade, included considerable security adjustments made after 9/11. Now that the program is concluded, BOS has emerged as a leader in airport security. Here, Bill Fife, facilitator for the peer review, shares some of the lessons learned by those in

In The History of the Pelopon-nesian War, Thucydides observes, "True safety was to be found in long previous training, and not in eloquent exhortations uttered when going into action." The same is true when it comes to securing an aviation facility: nothing surpasses comprehensive, proactive training and preparation.

Aviation is not particularly dangerous — it's just very unforgiving. Aviation security is no different. Thus, aviation security professionals endeavor to improve their technology, practices, and procedures. The peer review process is one technique for advancing that effort.

Perfectly positioned to host a peer review on aviation security, BOS designed the event to discuss lessons learned throughout the infrastructure and security modernization program. The meeting provided a unique opportunity for a "security summit," allowing for in-depth discussions of security issues facing aviation professionals. It was attended by airport personnel from around the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration, and representatives from other transportation modes.

Following are some of the bullet-point lessons coming out of the Massport security meeting:

1) Have System Performance/Assessment Metrics to assess system performance. These should include:

  • EDS and baggage handling system (BHS) availability
  • Total system downtime/total operational time
  • Downtime distribution (EDS versus BHS; bag jams, etc.)
  • Throughput
  • Auto alarm rate
  • Search rate
  • Total searches/total bags scanned
  • Resolution rate
  • Total Searches/Total Auto Alarms
  • Lost Tracking percentage
  • Jam distribution
  • Oversize/odd-size baggage percentage (BOS average = 4.5 percent)

2) Tracking Zone Location is a Key Issue

  • Tracking accuracy significantly improved by moving the location of the tracking window
  • Final bag orientation should be conducted prior to tracking initiation

3) Training – "Bag Belt 101" Can Make or Break an Operation

  • Operational training needed prior to system start-up
  • Include BHS maintenance personnel, air carrier, and TSA
  • Ensure that air carrier ticket counter personnel are familiar with system operation
  • Ticket counter etiquette has to include: Wheels up, tubs, over-height and odd-size

4) Heat and Cooling in Bag Rooms/TSA Inspection Rooms

  • Anticipate additional heat load from EDS units and belting systems


  • Utilized fixed camera at each trace location
  • Each baggage room should contain two additional cameras for inbound and outbound belt surveillance
  • Allow for 100 percent visual custody of bag while being screened by TSA personnel
  • Do digital recording — 30-day capacity to allow for baggage claim mitigation

6) RFID (radio frequency identification)

  • Plan for it in the future
  • Make provisions for it now.

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William Fife is Vice President and Aviation Business Line Leader for DMJM+HARRIS, Inc.