At Amsterdam Schiphol or Paris CDG, the securing of shipments by remotely deployed sniffer dogs is common standard since years. Soon, but only after being approved by the German
Regulator, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA), this will also be introduced at Rhine-Main airport.
The scheme complements the existing monitoring systems to detect explosives prior to getting on board an aircraft, consisting mainly of X-raying, hand search controls or screening.
Operator will be “Fraport Security Services K9 TEDD GmbH,” a newly founded subsidiary of Rhine-Main operator Fraport GmbH.
License holder of the new system offered by TEDD is “Het Twickelerveld European Detection Dog Service,” founded in 2005 in The Netherlands by Martin Lipsius, a former dog handler and bomb expert with the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
The detection system his company developed, known for its high efficiency, is basically quite easy to understand. Above all it needs a team of dog holders and trained explosive detection dogs and a special parking lot for trucks equipped with suction units to capture filtered air samples from the interior of the vehicles, containers or pallets. After the air probes are extracted the next step follows: They are transferred to a nearby facility where canines can analyze the samples, checking if they evaporate molecules indicating explosive substances. If the probes are clear, the animals don’t react. Otherwise they do, giving their holders a clear signal.
From beginning to end the “Remote Explosive Scent Tracing” procedure needs normally no more than 30 minutes, states TEDD MD Heidi Huppertz. How much a single scent tracing will cost, she does not say. But it is estimated that clients might have to pay around €500 or even less for securing insecure air freight by the future dog squad. Depending on the quantity, this option for securing insecure cargo could turn out to be much cheaper for shippers and forwarders in comparison to X-raying shipments, costing €0.08 cents per kilo on average at Frankfurt Airport demanded by local handling agents.
The Remote Explosive Scent Tracing method is very efficient, says Ms Huppertz, since entire truckloads of insecure freight arriving at the airport, carrying up to 40 tons, can be secured very fast should the detection dog on duty rubber-stamp the extracted air sample. Providing all requirements to benefit from the method are met by the customers.
Work in progress
Meanwhile, the area behind Frankfurt Cargo City South’s gate 31 has become a major construction site. There, 10 trucking parking lots each one equipped with a suction unit to capture air samples, are being built. Just a stone’s throw away, the dog station is currently taking shape. Once operational it will offer holders and dogs relaxation areas and recovery rooms. An office area completes the setup.
In order to close loopholes in air freight security, the EU has consented to the “Remote Explosive Scent Tracing” scheme back in 2010. Meanwhile, Regulation EU 2015/1998 is in force, demanding that all air freight stemming from unknown senders or trucked by companies not having the status as a Regulated Agent must be controlled prior to being loaded on board an aircraft. “Remote Explosive Scent Tracing,” as one security option among others, is expressly permitted by Brussels for all member states but still barely practiced.
Two shifts per day to start with
“Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell enabling them to discriminate the entire range of molecules indicating hazardous substances and explosives,” says Steffen Seipp, FraSec’s divisional head of marketing and sales. In contrast, rats or pigs have not such diverse smelling abilities, he adds, unable by nature to cover the entire range of molecules. Apart from that, these beings cannot be regarded as ideal emotional companions of their owners. An important aspect because dogs and their holders build a team working extremely closely together, unlike mice or rats and men.
As of October, FraSec will perform the canine service in two shifts “Once the cargo community is aware of our offer, we intend operating 23/7/365,” Ms Huppertz tells.
FRA might regain lost cargo business
Once established in Frankfurt similar dog squads might also be deployed at other airports. “We aim to expand our security service,” she confirms, mentioning Cologne, Munich and Leipzig as possible candidates for “Remote Explosive Scent Tracing” by trained dogs.
And a second thought comes to her mind: to regain lost volumes: “Due to fast and unbureaucratic security checks some forwarders favored Schiphol or Charles de Gaulle over Frankfurt, trucking some of their exports to these places in the past. Hopefully, these companies return to Rhine-Main once our air sampling system is in place.”
Touching on the issue of expected volumes of insecure freight arriving at FRA for being flown out, both managers remain rather vague, pointing out that this is not documented by data. “But we estimate capturing about ten percent of these loads,” says TEDD Chief Ms Huppertz.