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NPS-V: Securing critical restricted areas of airports

By: Marie-Claire Asseko
September 8, 2016

The airport concourses have been under tight security for years. Screening officers screen passengers, x-ray luggage and search employees. We accept it as an integral part of safe flying protocols.

However, airport borders, particularly the tarmac, have historically been far less scrutinized. Airport controlled checkpoints have investigated vehicles for obvious issues and required individuals to produce ID. However, a more thorough vehicle screening has been difficult to implement in the past. Transport Canada attempted to address the issue in 2004, but the plan was eventually scrapped due to the world security environment. The program was implemented again with full time protocols in 2014. The procedure is called non-passenger screening of vehicles, or NPS-V.

Numerous terror incidents around the world have been facilitated by airport employees smuggling weapons onto planes. In the face of this increasingly common threat, NPS-V programs were born. As a close partner of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), GardaWorld helps secure several airports across Canada through NPS-V.

NPS-V involves a checkpoint which all vehicles have to go through to reach the critical restricted areas where they could have direct access to aircraft. Vehicles are randomly selected for screening. They are thoroughly inspected along with the driver and all other occupants of the vehicle.

NPS-V screening officers are looking for potential threat items which could be used to harm passengers, employees, critical infrastructure and aircraft. This includes explosive material and weapons. .

The searches are conducted with a variety of tools, including mirrors, flashlights, x-ray machines, explosive detection technology, hand-held metal detectors and walk through metal detectors, all of which are provided by CATSA, GardaWorld’s client and partner.

Several major airports in Canada now include NPS-V as part of their security protocol. In Calgary, a class one airport, about 68 GardaWorld employees currently conduct NPS-V screening at checkpoints. They are operational on a daily basis, around the clock. It is important that properly trained individuals are there to carry out the vehicle screening. In this way, NPS-V plays a vital role in our overall commitment to aviation safety.