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Airports use fencing, walls, natural barriers, and/or sensor and surveillance technology to control access to
their exterior perimeter as well as to delineate within the airport boundaries between Air Operations Area
(AOA) and Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) and/or Secured Areas.
A survey of U.S. commercial airports conducted in February, 2015 by the RTCA Special Committee 224
(and available on request from RTCA), found that only a quarter of the 66 respondents currently use some
form of technology for perimeter intrusion detection. For those who did report using technology for
perimeter intrusion detection, over 80 percent reported using primarily some form of CCTV surveillance
(including some using video motion detection) with a few using other technologies such as fence sensors,
microwave, radar, etc. None of these airports covered their whole airport with their intrusion detection.
For those airports that are not currently using such technology, approximately one-third said they are
considering acquiring some form of technology for perimeter intrusion detection. More than half of these
anticipate doing so within the next two years.
Those airports who have not acquired systems cited cost concerns (76 percent), waiting for standards, and
lack of regulatory guidance as reasons. Lack of infrastructure was also identified as well as lack of
confidence in available technology.
Although there is no regulation that requires specific fencing criteria, most airport fencing is typically
designed to meet previous FAA and current FAA Advisory Circular guidance. Some airports have simple
six-(6) foot chain link fence while others may have nine-(9) foot chain link with concertina razor wire
outrigging. Many airport fences serve as a rudimentary level of protection and have deterrent value, but do
not have the capability to detect, delay or report an intrusion or breach. A few airports, however, do
currently employ detection sensor systems and other forms of perimeter protection.
Fencing is available in several designs that are difficult to climb or cut; others employ motion, tension, or
other electronic sensing options. For fences with sensors, either mounted on the fence or in-ground,
covering areas behind fencing, there are related elements to the security system to monitor the sensors and
respond to intrusion alarms.
While some U.S. airports have employed various types of sensor technology for perimeter intrusion
detection, most have not. There are various reasons, but one prominent one is the perceived cost of
acquisition, installation, and maintenance. Airports that are in highly populated areas and/or have water
abutting airport property tend to have a higher degree of intrusion protection, combining both physical and
technology solutions. Additionally, many airports that need to operationally delineate inside airport
boundaries between AOA and SIDA and/or Secured Areas have used technology such as virtual fence
(smart motion detection), buried and above ground sensors in addition to physical access control systems.
Since 2001, sensor technology options suited to airport applications have become more available to
commercial airports. The technical efficacy and reliability has improved, and the cost has been reduced.
The technology has evolved to improve the detection probability and at the same time reduce nuisance and
false alarms, as well as better address weather and environmental-related problems, thus making this
technology more attractive for airport perimeter protection. Examples of some of the technology in use at
various size airports include:
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