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and a formal contract negotiated. Various options are under consideration at DOT and FAA. We have been told informally that FAA has only $600,000 available for this fiscal year, with a possibility of another $1.7 million in FY 1990. With this level of funding it would take 36 months to complete the project. At the present time, Thermedics is not currently under contract on this project to FAA or DOT, and is facing, as one might expect, its own internal budgetary decisions. There has been no activity
on the project since the airport testing in the fall of 1988.
Thermedics won a second competitive contract from the FAA in the area of carry-on luggage. This "seed" project for $0.5 million was also successful, as it was shown possible, in principle, to construct an automated conveyor-based system for screening carry-on luggage for plastic explosives. A proposal to proceed with the engineering was submitted to the FAA in July 1988. Thermedics was advised informally at that time that it was unlikely that there would be further development due to lack of funding. Since the Pan Am crash, there has been renewed interest at the FAA Technical Center in the possible acceleration of the development of this hardware. A new proposal for carry-on luggage, with a much accelerated schedule, was submitted in February 1989. An interim research and development task on this project for $0.3 million has been negotiated, and may be awarded to Thermedics shortly. We understand that the FAA does not have
the funds to proceed with the development of an automated
screening system for carry-on luggage.
Regarding a third Thermedics project in which FAA has an interest, the Department of State has provided substantial funding for the development of the EGIS® portable explosives detector at Thermedics. Including the cost of the first three production units, this project has received $6.8 million of government funds. A primary function of the EGIS system is to detect car bombs, preventing them from being driven into an embassy. However, EGIS is a flexible system and should be capable of assisting airport security in many screening applications within an airport facility. The system is effective and well suited for use in screening checked or carry-on luggage for the presence of concealed plastic explosives. Also, the portable sampling probe allows security personnel to screen the plane itself including airplane seats, lavatories, or hidden compartments for the presence of explosives. There have been extensive field trials of this equipment, including operational use at embassies in Europe and South America. The test data, theory of operation, and certain documents relative to the
program have been classified by the Department of State.
The EGIS system has gone through four generations in the past four years; the final equipment is now engineered for mass production. Production of the first three units is complete. The
next production run of 10 units has just begun. Thermedics has
the capacity to ship up to 75 units in 1989, and 1000 machines in 1990. The units will sell for about $124,000 and will be
warranted for 12 months.
EGIS detectors could be deployed in significant numbers this year. The system is most suited for use at the check-in line, while passengers are waiting to check in for the flight. One or two systems, operating with multiple sample probes, would be capable of screening all the luggage for a large Jumbo jet,
without causing delays.
By their very nature, the vapor detectors which have been designed at Thermedics are passive. They are unobtrusive. Also,
they are relatively compact and low cost.
It must be appreciated that explosives detectors and other security related instrumentation can never be foolproof. However, X-ray, and the new generation of vapor and TNA technologies, all working together, complementing each other, could close each other's loopholes, and together offer
significantly improved security.
In sum, with respect to EGIS, because of the foresight of the FAA and the Department of State in developing this new technology, it is a ready-to-go system now entering production.
It will become available in quantities within the next several
months. If the FAA and Thermedics receive the R & D funding, the SecurScan portal passenger screening system could be available, as a production unit, in late 1990. If funds can be found for the proposed conveyor system for carry-on luggage, it too could be available by the end of 1990. These systems, together with the other security equipment, would complete the explosives detection package and provide airports, for the first time, with
an effective security net against terrorist bombings.
We urge this Committee to ensure that in this time of budgetary cutbacks to meet the mandates of Gramm-Rudman, DOT and FAA be provided sufficient funding to finish the high tech. development which they so wisely began four years ago. The technology is there: give FAA the resources so that it can finish the job. No one would like to be here again soon, trying to explain to the families of new victims of another terrorist
bombing why we had failed to act.
lon Track Instruments, Inc.
- Burlington, Massachusetts 01803 U.S.A.
Facsimile (617) 273.3066
U. S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION, AVIATION SUBCOMMITTEE
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 1989
JOHN G. PADERSON
ION TRACK INSTRUMENTS INC.
"TODAY'S SOLUTIONS FOR TODAY'S PROBLEMS"