15.05.2024 • NewsAirport Security

Smooth Flight – The critical importance of complete airport security

The airline industry’s profitability relies on keeping planes in the sky. Any disruption to the flow of air traffic in and out of an airport can have a major impact to the economy and reputation.

Mark Cosgrave, Divisional Director - Western Europe at Optex

Smooth Flight – The critical importance of complete airport security
© AdobeStock_316796118[39]/Optex

The efficient operation of an airport can be significantly disrupted when individuals gain unauthorised entry to runways or airside areas, whether for illegal entry into the country, theft, vandalism, or acts of terrorism targeting aircraft or on-site infrastructure. Whilst certainly not everyday events, they do happen, which is why getting airport security right is critical.  

Securing the Perimeter 

One of the major challenges airports face is effectively monitoring and protecting extensive perimeters, while the presence of multiple entry points further compounds the task of maintaining robust security. Safeguarding runways, public areas and controlled access areas requires a combination of different technologies to meet the specific needs of each airport. 

Perimeter fences can be hundreds of kilometres long, punctuated with CCTV cameras and video surveillance. Building a reliable security system requires detection technologies that can distinguish genuine intrusions and accurately identify the precise location of an intrusion as it is taking place. Indeed, being able to detect and track an intruder from an initial point of entry is increasingly important and can allow a quick response to security threats.   

 Fibre optic perimeter intrusion detection systems can be mounted directly onto the fence line, buried or in a hybrid installation and can identify the precise location of anyone even before the perimeter is breached. They can detect anyone attempting to jump over, cut through or even crash into the fence in a vehicle, with instant alerts sent to the control centre. 

Airfield threats  

Areas between the outer fences and main airport buildings are a hive of activity, with constant movement of vehicles, luggage and people between aircraft hangers, warehouses and control towers. LiDAR is again useful for detecting unauthorised access while not disrupting operations and traffic in these busy areas. It is perfect for detecting people or vehicles as they approach a prohibited area, allowing more time for an appropriate response to be actioned. Rooftops are often overlooked, but are critical areas to protect. They often prove vulnerable to intruders tampering with or trying to steal lead flashing or solar panels, for example, or attempting to gain access through a skylight. Mounted horizontally, LiDAR creates a virtual detection plane to add an extra line of security. 

Passenger Movement 

Airport operators want to create an open, relaxing space, particularly for nervous fliers. Also, with airport shopping generating huge revenue, detection systems need to be discrete and in-keeping with aesthetics. LiDAR detection is invisible[SL1]  to passengers and creates virtual internal barriers, which, when crossed, will alert security and provide the perpetrator's exact location. It can be programmed to match the opening and closing times of every individual shop, and can also be used to detect people trying to gain unauthorised access into the country by jumping the escalators.  

Objects thrown airside or landside is another challenge for airports to deal with. One European airport recently discovered passengers were discarding their passports as they approached passport control, so that they arrived undocumented. OPTEX’s LIDAR technology creates an invisible ceiling over the security checks to prevent this from happening. 


From bustling international hubs to regional airstrips, combining multiple technologies to create a multi-layered approach to security that is highly reliable and ensures minimal false alarms is essential for our airports to remain safe and efficient spaces for all.

Business Partner

OPTEX (Europe) Ltd. - EMEA Headquarters

Unit 13, Cordwallis Park, Clivemont Road
SL6 7BZ Maidenhead

Business Partner contact

most read

08.04.2024 • NewsSecurity

A Packed Programme at The Security Event

Organisers of The Security Event trade show, which takes place from 30 April to 2 May at Birmingham's NEC, have released a brochure detailing all the reasons why it’s an essential event for security professionals.