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Protecting airports from hostile vehicle attacks

In 2007, a vehicle laden with explosives was driven at speed into the façade of the departure terminal at Glasgow Airport, with the intention to cause mass casualties; luckily the vehicle simply caught fire but this event led to airports in the UK and abroad reassessing their vehicle access procedures and implementing higher level security measures to protect airports from hostile vehicle attack.

With today’s increased terrorist activity all international and regional airports are facing the task of assessing the threat and placing measures to mitigate a possible hostile vehicle attack.

Airports welcome thousands of people travelling every day through their terminal buildings; air travel has become an essential part of modern life and is the life-line between different cultures and economies. The mass movement of people and their collection within airport terminals and other areas makes them a target for terrorists looking to cause mass disruption and casualties and notoriety for their acts.

Airport Security teams and other agencies are tasked with ensuring the safety of the general public, stakeholders & assets without causing alarm or disruption to everyday travellers.

Avon Barrier has provided hundreds of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation measures at airports to ensure the physical protection of the public and secure locations. With extensive knowledge of how airports work our engineering team are well placed to advise on appropriate measures to meet an airports particular needs. In order to protect an airport it is essential to have a wide range of products to meet the engineering restrictions such as underground services whilst also considering the subliminal message portrayed to the travelling public. In certain areas it is vital to send the message that the area is strictly out-of-bounds (service road/airside access points etc.) whilst in other areas such as terminal buildings a more subtle message needs to be portrayed whilst not compromising the protection levels.

Some of the high risk areas to consider:

  • Terminal buildings and other public areas
  • Air Traffic Control tower & critical building structures
  • Critical services (data communication, gas/electrical, water)
  • Airside operating areas (runways/airside entrance/exit points)
  • Service delivery areas

Airports require security solutions which provide high levels of protection with minimum disruption to the free movement of people and supplies, therefore any hostile vehicle mitigation measures need to be designed with both in mind. By applying their specific experience Avon Barrier are able to assess the needs of a site both in terms of its physical protection and operational needs and suggest solutions to fit.

These have previously included: –

  • Crash-tested static bollards to provide blast stand-off distance in the event of a vehicle bomb explosion outside of terminal buildings, as well as preventing vehicles being able to ram into the front of the infrastructure causing mass causalities. Our range of both automatic and static bollards offer a less obtrusive deterrent without compromising the level of protection or inhibiting free passage of passengers around permitted areas.
  • Crash-tested automated bollards complement a line of static bollards and allow authorised vehicle access without compromising the line of protection.
  • Crash-tested sliding vehicle gates deter unauthorised vehicles and pedestrians from accessing airside operating areas. They can be integrated into the perimeter fence line with options of full cladding to prevent airside visibility or ballistic cladding for higher risk locations.
  • Crash-tested road blockers are a popular choice for service delivery areas, being robust and durable, they provide a visual message to drivers that the area is restricted and provide physical protection against a hostile attack. Avon Barrier has installed a variety of its crash-tested units to suit the specific restrictions an airport site may have, for example shallow foundations units where underground services are a problem.
  • Crash-tested rising arm barriers provide a high level of protection and have been utilised at airside entrance points in a ‘trap’ formation to enable vehicle security checks to be carried out. In addition to automated barriers Avon Barriers manual range of crash-tested products are the ideal cost-effective choice for entrance points with minimum usage or in areas where the availability of power is restricted.
  • Ancillary products such as non-rated barriers/gates and manual products all enable a comprehensive package of measures to be provided to protect and control an airports entrance points.With a long standing involvement in the protection of airports and a clear understanding of the challenges airport security staff face, Avon Barrier are well placed through their experience and product range to offer an effective solution.