U.S. airports are
finished with last years Transportation Security Administration
deadline to install baggage screening systems and now are
pressing designers, contractors and vendors to take those
systems in-line. That means getting bulky explosion-detection
machines out of lobbies, installing belts that take bags to
discreet screening locations and upgrading to the newest,
most sophisticated detection machines.
"Airports are trying to get
to the long-term solution, getting that equipment fully integrated
into mechanical conveyor systems within the terminal,"
says Mike Steer, air transportation director in the Hunt Valley,
Md., office of URS Corp. "Thats the next wave of
"Over the next four to 10
years, technology will be incorporated into new designs,"
says David Yeamans, aviation group general manager for Burns
& McDonnell, Kansas City, Mo. "The philosophy used
to be to have passengers know [security components] are thereto
flaunt the technology. Now, the architecture will be built
to hide that."
B&Ms work on Philadelphias
$600-million terminal expansion included $40 million in redesign
to put in 13 in-line machines, Yeamans says. New CTX 9000
machines can handle almost 200 bags an hour. All 13 will come
on line by next year to create a redundant system.
At Dallas-Forth Worth airport,
work is progressing on what officials say is the nations
first fully automated in-line system where all checked bags
are transferred seamlessly from curbside or counter to the
aircraft. The $174-million system is 75% funded by TSA and
25% by passenger facility charges, with the airport authority
selling bonds to advance the job.
Each of DFWs five terminals
will have at least three scanning rooms and one resolution
room, all beneath the terminal floor. "We have to shoehorn
two miles worth of conveyor belt into a congested terminal,"
says Ivan Nicodemus, senior project manager for New York City-based
PB Aviation, which with Fort Worth-based Carter & Burgess
is the systems designer. "We had 20,000 sq ft of
new building construction in Terminals B and E. We were fortunate
in Terminal C that a recent renovation left a large area available."
Newest models of explosion-detection screeners have
a higher accuracy rate than before.
DFW studied test cases at San Francisco,
Jacksonville and Boston airports and used San Francisco as
a model for full deployment, Nicodemus says. Some 60 explosion-detection
units, 13,500 ft of new conveyor belt and 4,500 sq ft of new
construction is required. Plus, "were trying to
put $250 million in retrofit construction inside the terminals,
where theyre also building an [$872-million] people
mover and a new terminal," adds Nicodemus.
Only 15 operators will be needed
to inspect 50,000 daily bags once the system begins operating
in mid-2004, says Gene Barry, C&B project manager. DFW
estimates it would have spent up to $57 million a year with
2,000 workers if it continued using current equipment.
In Tampa, an outbound in-line baggage
screening system at Terminal E is operating, with another
$130 million of work under way to fit the other terminals
with the system. Work on the new 275,000-sq-ft, 14-gate terminal
began in June 2001 and was completed ahead of schedule in
late 2002, despite reconfiguration caused by 9/11.
OUT OF SIGHT
Conveyor belts carry checked bags to basement rooms
and eventually out to the plane.
"We were more in a position
to accept emergent changes than a typical project" thanks
to working design-build, says Jim Clemens, vice president
of the Tampa office of Skanska USA Building Inc., which led
the DB team with architect Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, St.
Louis. The system scans baggage with an L-3 6000 scanner produced
by Level 3 Communications, and moves pieces on a conveyor
belt built beneath people mover tracks. The design-build job
to extend this system to the other three terminals is to be
completed in 2005.
Project leaders assigned teams
to work specifically with TSA on checkpoint and security issues.
Checkpoints are fitted with five security lanes and new wanding
stations. To make room for the new equipment, "we had
to eliminate all the baggage makeup areas that carriers used
for years to collect and sort baggage carts," says Clemens.
"We cleared the space and relocated all air carriers
from the landside terminal out to their respective airside
terminals." The airside areas received new reception
points for the baggage coming off the conveyor belts.
Construction included a 51,000-sq-ft
sortation facility. "We built $17 million worth in 17
weeks," Clemens notes.
Of 20 project team members for
baggage handling, just three were related to construction,
note Skanska officials. "We have MIT engineers, chemical
processing engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers.
Is it still putting up buildings and pouring concrete? Yes,"
says Clemens. "But...we have to elevate technological
skill sets. We deal hourly with flight schedules. Weve
assimilated ourselves into the airline culture."
The second phase in airport baggage
screening work has been a windfall for material handling companies
such as FKI Logistex, Danville, Ky. "Most of what were
doing now is online baggage screening," says Don Anderson,
FKI airport systems director. FKI provided the system for
Tampa and this month won an $8-million contract at McCarran
International Airport in Las Vegas. The contract coves installation
of 12 L-3 machines and a conveyor system along with Radio
Frequency Identification (RFID) baggage tags.
"The RFID concept isnt
new," says Anderson. "But its always been
cost-prohibitive until recently." RFID tags now cost
about 25 each. Affixed to a bag, the technology provides
a higher level of detection. "McCarron will be the first
airport to go 100% RFID for all departing bags, but in two
to three years...itll come fast to other airports,"
Anderson predicts. "With EDS, you can expect to get scan
rates in the 90% accuracy range. With RFID it goes to 99.9%."
McCarran put its $1.4-billion capital
improvements program on hold after 9/11, but saw its saw numbers
revive in 2002, with 35 million passengers. In 2003 it awarded
a $90-million contract to local firm Sletten Construction
Co. of Nevada for a 10-gate, 197,000-sq-ft terminal addition
and a 167-ft-tall traffic control tower. FKIs system
is part of a $125 million program, with local Flagship Construction
performing the $18-million first phase. The screening system
is due to be completed in May 2004.
PB Aviation President Gerald FitzGerald
says designers must be aware of impending changes to technology.
He compares current systems to mainframe computers. "In
a few years the desktop version will be out," he says.
"It will have tremendous impact on [associated] space
and manpower....You dont want to overexpand, if in three
months you dont need that space. Its a tremendous
challenge for people designing EDS systems."
The key for all airport work is
flexibility, say scores of airport designers and builders.
One example of that mindset is at San Franciscos international
terminal, a common-use facility where no airline has its own
separate facilities. Building a common system for all carriers
enabled the airport to be 100% EDS compliant for the 2002
McCarron also uses common-use machines
such as electronic check-in kiosks. "Its a low-cost
alternative to building more space," says Scott Collier,
consultant with Orlando-based ZHA Inc., an airport program
management firm. Jayne ODonnell, aviation vice president
for New York City-based Turner Construction Co., points out
that Las Vegas utilizes a common-gate system in one of its
concourses so that no carrier has a designated gate. "Its
extremely flexible and others are just starting to recognize
the value of that," she says.
Changes to in-line systems wont
come right awaysome airports still need more funding
before they can even be implemented. "Nobody knows when
TSA will certify a higher through-put machine," says
FKIs Anderson. "But when that happens, airports
could very well leave their existing machines in place for
another three to four years. Then, when traffic is overwhelming,
theyll replace them with the quicker machines and that
has ramifications to the layout of the conveyor that feeds
the machine." But it wont require nearly as much
work as what is happening now to get in-line systems initially
installed, he adds.
Funding for that work may come
through the newly approved four-year, $60-billion aviation
bill. The measure authorizes $14.2 billion for federal airport
grants and $2 billion for a new Aviation Security Capital
Fund, authorized at $500 million a year and administered by
the Dept. of Homeland Security. The fund has a dedicated revenue
stream from security fees that airline passengers pay. Funding
is subject to congressional appropriations. For 2004, Congress
allotted $250 million (ENR 12/1 p. 13).
Airports want to move machines out of their ticket lobbies.
Most projects coming from the security
fund "will be about figuring out in-line functions,"
says William Fife, aviation vice president for New York City-based
DMJM + Harris. "Only a few airports have put the in-line
systems in. Theyll all need to do it. EDS machines in
[terminal] lobbies have eaten up the capacity." And capacity
issues will return as air travel ramps back up.
Planners will also look beyond
baggage screening at terminals to adjacent air cargo and perimeter
facilities, says Mike Stephens, senior aviation planner for
HDR, Omaha. Hardening parking structures and tunnels, inspecting
large vehicles accessing an airport and identification and
training procedures for construction workers at airports are
some of the immediate issues, he says.
TSA is expected to come out with
a notice of proposed rulemaking by years end based on
recommendations for air cargo screening, which include perimeter
security and new technologies.
Of course, nothing is predictable.
Another extreme event "will change the paradigm all over
again," says Arthur Debowy, principal with CDG Group,
a New York City-based architecture firm.
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