BAE Systems aims for SAFEE aircraft

Researchers are beginning preliminary tests on a futuristic onboard aircraft threat detection system at BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre .

The Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project is said to create a non-hijackable aircraft. The four-year €35.8m (£24.22m) project is funded by the European Commission and industrial partners including Airbus, EADS, SAGEM Défense Sécurité, Thales Avionics, NLR, and Siemens. Over 100 aviation experts are involved.

BAE Systems is creating an Onboard Threat Detection System (OTDS) to spot erratic passenger behaviour using data from cabin video and audio sensors, which will be fed to the ground to facilitate decisions in events such as hijackings.

The team has used actors to film re-enactments of terrorist attacks on board an old BAE 146 at the firm’s Filton facility.

‘Some behaviours can be difficult to detect,’ said Dr Catherine Neary, human factors specialist at BAE Systems. ‘On long-haul flights there tends to be much more movement.

‘Another challenge is the introduction of mobile phones on board aircraft,’ she added.

BAE Systems is also developing a Threat Assessment and Response Management System to assemble data and recommend appropriate responses for the cockpit crew.

Other features of the aircraft include a collision avoidance system to avoid it being steered into a building or a mountain. An onboard computer could use biometrics to identify a hijacker then guide the aircraft to the nearest airport.