Explosive Vapor Detectors (EVD) Ready To Be Implemeted for Air Cargo Screening at ECAC Level

Air Cargo Screening is mandatory in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), however, it is a complex and expensive activity, mainly because current technologies, mainly EDD (Explosive Detection Dogs) and X-Rays (imaging), don’t fulfill the requirements demanded by the air cargo operators in terms of detection performances (low DR: Detection Rate and high FAR: False Alarm Rate), throughout and versatility, consequently, the screening costs are high and the process is very slow because it requires a lot of manual handling with the need of big warehouses and the involvement of many trained operators.

Even though this fact is well known by security authorities, they are not interested in publicly sharing the details of the inefficient operation in air cargo screening for obvious security reasons, however, TSA reported in 2015 a “95 percent failure rate to detect explosives, weapons, and illegal drugs ” where similar screening technologies are implemented, although the target is different (people vs cargo).
MION, a Spanish-based technological company, has been working on the development of new screening technologies based on vapor detection since 2005, and after almost 20 years of working on the technology and the protocol certification in collaboration with the most relevant EU test centers and security policymakers. Finally, the ECAC (European Civil Aviation Conference) has approved the implementation of EVDs (Explosive Vapor Detectors) for air cargo screening in January 2023 according to the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/566 of 10 March 2023, amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2015/1998 as regards certain detailed measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security (OJ L 74, 13.3.2023, p. 47).

This is a great advance for aviation security since the level of security will significantly improve and the screening processes will be simplified and cheapened because EVD technology has several benefits. In particular, VPSCAN, the EVD developed by MION, has a Detection Rate higher than 90% and a FAR lower than 2%, has the capacity to detect in bulk mode (complete trucks and containers without the need of unloading the cargo), it is versatile with the capacity to adapt it to many scenarios like pallets, boxes, mail, etc, the database can be as large as needed, it is fully non-intrusive, the results are generated automatically without the need of interpretation from one operator and the complete analysis is done in 6 minutes for a complete truck.
The EVD process is divided into separated 2 operations: i) sampling where an operator takes an air sample from the target container/truck/pallet/skid in 2-4 minutes depending on the size, and ii) analysis in which the collecting filter is automatically analyzed in another 3 minutes.

The air cargo sector is in great luck and EVD is the screening solution that freight forwarders, air cargo operators, and airlines are waiting for a long time, as the director of one cargo screening company at Heathrow Airport says: “EVDs will make our life in a dream”