Sometimes even the safest places can be unsafe

In December of 2018 there was a major security breach at Hannover Airport in Germany.
A lone man, driving a BMW with Polish plates, somehow accessed the airport and one of its runways.

The driver drove onto the runway and followed a landing Aegean Airlines flight before being stopped and detained by armed police.

He was later discovered to have been high on drugs and no dangerous substances or weapons were found in the vehicle.

On the face of it, a minor incident involving a drunk/drugged driver who perhaps took a wrong turn.

But, in fact, this incident is far more serious than that!

When airport security fails

Terrorists of the modern era have always seen airports and aircraft as being prime targets.  The damage that can be caused to infrastructure, the fear generated in the flying public and the potentially huge loss of life involved in a successful attack make airports especially vulnerable.

In one swoop, a terror attack can paralyze a city and even a country.

Thankfully, the majority of major airports are well protected and have emergency response plans in place for many different scenarios.

So, what went wrong in Hannover?

Hannover Airport, like all major German airports has a comprehensive security system in place designed to prevent the public and potential threats from accessing the airport’s closed, operational areas.

This includes fences and gates, vehicle barriers, automatic bollards and CCTV systems as well as regular, armed, security patrols.

According to police reports, the driver crashed through a barrier and drove onto the runway.

Other reports suggest that a gate was left open allowing for easy access to the runway.

Whatever the case, this was an incident that should not have been allowed to happen.

Had the driver been a terrorist with a car full of explosives, or even if the car had collided with the plane’s landing gear, an accident of mega proportions could have been caused resulting in hundreds of dead and injured.

The incident raises many questions: was a barrier or gate left open? If so, who should have been responsible for closing it or checking? Did the car break through a barrier or fence (indicating that its impact resistance was insufficient)? In that specific location, was the fence/barrier sufficient to provide an adequate defense against possible threats and risks? What plans were in place, if any, to prevent such a security breach?

Better security – increased safety

In order to prevent such security breaches in the future, positive steps must be taken.

  1. Conduct a risk assessment process to identify those gates/barriers in more sensitive locations and adapt/change security protocols/equipment to meet the risk level.
  2. Increased use of CCTV to monitor gates and entry points.
  3. Alerts to control centers whenever a gate/barrier is opened and remains open for an unusual length of time.
  4. Strengthening and increasing impact resistance of gates and barriers.
  5. Gates or barriers that open and close automatically when authorized vehicles approach.
  6. Increasing vigilance of security officers to prevent unauthorized vehicles from approaching sensitive areas.
  7. Design and installation of mitigation resources in the event of unauthorized vehicle access including fast deployment of vehicle hard stop systems (passive or active), concealed ramps, spike systems
  8. Increased intelligence gathering and awareness.

Airports and the flying public will always be an inviting target for terrorists.

Our battle to prevent them from carrying out attacks and to minimize damage and injury, is a never ending one that requires that we be constantly aware of new developments and update our threat response scenarios accordingly.

Mifram has been active in this area for more than 50 years, building on the extensive, field experience of its engineers and designers, the skills of its craftsmen and fabricators and the lessons learned through close cooperation with our customers across the globe.

We have provided cutting edge, innovative, reliable, versatile and cost-efficient vehicle barrier systems to clients around the world including the U.S. State Department, U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, FBI, KBR, Elbit Systems, RTA, UN, Japanese Army, French Customs, and many other national security agencies.

The company also works with leading Israeli agencies and companies including the IDF and the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the Aerospace and International Industry, Bank Leumi, Bank HaPoalim and Discount Bank, Sapir College and many other educational institutions, municipalities, and government departments and companies.

Contact us now – we will help you choose the best solutions for your needs.