In its newest study on the market for explosives, weapons and contraband (EWC) detection equipment for airports, IHS found the market to be worth more than $740 million globally and to have a CAGR of 6% over the next four years.
Due to new and evolving security threats to the aviation industry, in July 2014, Department of Homeland Security officials announced new screening measures on international flights into the US in response to concerns that terrorists are planning to carry out attacks on aircraft or at airports using body-borne improvised explosives devices (BBIED).
Today, a combination of checkpoint screening equipment is used to screen for explosives, including backscatter X-ray, millimetre-wave scanners, metal detectors, and explosives trace detectors. Due to privacy and medical concerns related to the use of backscatter and millimetre-wave technologies, regulators have prohibited more invasive X-ray screening of passengers that can detect BBIEDs like the high energy X-ray systems used by customs agencies to detect drugs or other contraband hidden within the body. In response to these new security threats, passengers, their luggage and electronic devices are being subjected to enhanced explosives screening with existing trace and X-ray detection equipment. Passengers are also required to turn on all electronic devices to ensure they are not being used as remote detonators for BBIEDs.
Currently, these new screening measures only apply to flights into the US from Europe and the Middle East; however, IHS expects these screening measures to be implemented in other regions as the threat of BBIEDs increases worldwide. Due to the current limitations of X-ray based screening equipment in detecting BBIEDs, IHS expects airports to increasingly turn to desktop and hand-held trace detection technologies to screen for explosive residue. Because of this, multi-application detection equipment is expected to be the second fastest growing detection type over the next four years with a CAGR of 6.3%.
As threats to the airports industry have evolved, so too have the technologies used to detect these threats. Much like the evolution of other aviation threats (i.e., the threat of liquid, aerosols, and gel explosives, shoe bombs, and underwear bombs), the threat of BBIEDs will have to be addressed with a combination of technologies and regulations that meet the health, safety, and privacy demands of passengers and regulators. The airport checkpoint market is poised to see continued growth as airports, airlines, and regulators look for the best solution to the threat from BBIEDs.
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