The recent security breach at Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom has highlighted further the need for improved security measures to protect airport perimeters.

In the UK situation, protestors belonging to the ‘Plane Stupid’ environmental campaigning group cut through the perimeter fence surrounding Stansted, entered the site and remained on the tarmac for five hours, disrupting air traffic and causing passengers extensive delays.

It’s a situation that does not surprise Alec Owen, international client manager at Future Fibre Technologies (FFT), which manufactures fibre optic perimeter security systems.

“Perimeter protection is often overlooked in the overall airport security mix,” Mr Owen says. “Standards of passenger screening for example, have improved vastly in recent years but there has not been a comparable investment in perimeter protection.”

In response to the UK break-in, the Civil Aviation Authority now plans to implement a penalty system that could see the airport fined up to 7% of its takeoff and landing charge revenues, if it fails to meet particular security targets.

The problem of inadequate perimeter protection security is not universal, as some airports have upgraded their perimeter protection security, ensuring that any intrusion attempts are immediately conveyed to security staff.

FFT’s fence-mounted fibre optic intrusion detection system, Secure Fence™, which is installed at many international airports, helps overcome the major issues of airport perimeter security.

Alec Owen says his company’s solution delivers significant up-front costs savings as only one system is required for perimeters for up to 80km long.

“Secure Fence delivers the lowest ongoing total cost of ownership (TCO) as our technology requires no electronics in the field, no power in the field and it is easy and economical to install or expand.” Owen says. “In addition, there is no field maintenance.”

The FFT system works with the company’s patented alarm recognition and discrimination (ARaD) technology, which enables FFT’s secure fence system to detect a fence climb, cut or lift – even when they occur during a natural event, such as storms, strong winds, and tropical downpours, thereby virtually eliminating the incidence of nuisance alarms.

The ideal perimeter protection solution for airport perimeters, says Owen, is a fence-mounted fibre-optic detection system, linking back to the main security centre and ideally interfacing to CCTV cameras, to provide visual confirmation to staff so they can determine the exact nature of the intrusions or threats they face.