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  3. S&T Impact Series
  4. S&T Impact: Aviation Security

S&T Impact: Aviation Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) helps strengthen aviation security through technology and tools that support everything from improved passenger and baggage screening to more resilient aircraft construction. We develop solutions in close collaboration with first responders, industry and all levels of government to ensure cost effectiveness, usability and efficiency. Watch the video and read below to learn more about the technologies and capabilities we deliver to keep our customers.


Luggage screening device S&T researches more effective and efficient ways to screen luggage and air cargo

  • The Checked Baggage program addresses ways to automate threat detection in next generation checked baggage screening equipment.
  • The Secondary Screening program focuses on detecting trace amounts of explosives and providing training and technology to secure aviation from explosives threats.
  • The Air Cargo program develops powerful imaging software to help detect any potential threats hidden in cargo before it is loaded onto commercial passenger flights.

Detection canine dog S&T collaborates with the agencies charged with protecting the homeland

  • The Detection Canine program partners with Transportation Security Administration (TSA), other agencies and law enforcement to improve the proficiency of explosives detection canine teams in soft target and large crowd environments.
  • The Transportation Security Laboratory brings together physicists, chemists, engineers and mathematicians to conduct applied research and test and evaluation to detect improvised explosive devices.

Biometric scanning technology S&T works with industry to develop innovative techniques and solutions

  • The Biometric Technology Rally challenges industry to develop high-throughput biometric systems that quickly and accurately recognize users within identity verification operations, such as security checkpoints.
  • The Silicon Valley Innovation program works with the startup community to develop solutions to the hardest problems facing DHS and the Homeland Security Enterprise.
  • S&T Aviation Futures Workshops provide a forum to help guide strategies and support investment decisions focused on advancing the future of aviation security.


An agent screening baggage S&T improves training technology

  • The Pat-Down Accuracy Training Tool (PATT) is a unique tool equipped with thousands to pressure sensors that helps teach Transportation Security Officers (TSO’s) the most effective, efficient and appropriate way to conduct pat-down inspections of air passengers.
  • ScreenAdapt is an advanced training system that uses eye-tracking technology to better train TSO’s to analyze X-ray images at the checkpoint.

An airplane with the engines on fire S&T conducts testing to address the effects of explosives


An explosion S&T strengthens protections by turning data into tactical security enhancements for aviation

  • The Tyndall Reactive Materials Group team in Panama City, Florida, is a highly capable team of chemists, imaging experts and explosives detection technicians providing solutions to prevent a wide range of emerging threats from becoming successful attacks.
  • The Detection Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is a collaboration between S&T and the FBI Terrorist Explosive Device Analytics Center studying explosives threats and developing countermeasures in an aviation security environment.

Passenger screening technology S&T is looking to the future of aviation screening technology

  • The Apex Screening at Speed program is working to create an almost-invisible checkpoint by integrating imaging, trace detection, X-ray technologies and software systems.


S&T is the primary research and development arm of DHS operational components and the nation’s first responders. S&T helps improve the safety and effectiveness of homeland security professionals by developing innovative solutions with public and private sector partners. Our approach involves:

1. Identifying Needs by discussing operational challenges with DHS Components and first responders; 2. Developing Prototypes or leveraging existing technologies to quickly find solutions; 3. Testing and Evaluating potential solutions to ensure they meet end-user needs; 4. Deploying Solutions to the field within a short timeframe.

S&T relies on partnerships with industry, academia and technology developers to continue providing next-generation solutions that improve responder safety and effectiveness. If you’re interested in helping strengthen the nation’s homeland security, visit our Work with S&T page to discover the many ways to work with S&T. Then, check out the rest of our website and follow S&T on Facebook, InstagramX, YouTube, and LinkedIn for the latest updates on our work. Download a printable version of this page now.

Last Updated: 06/10/2024
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