Training plays a key role in screening system upgrades

As security screening technology moves forward, airports around the world are upgrading legacy passenger checkpoints to integrated systems featuring CT X-ray scanners and intelligent lanes. Introducing completely new technology is a huge step change for staff who need to acquire different skills and knowledge. Therefore, ensuring all stakeholders receive the appropriate training plays a key role in ensuring equipment delivers maximum performance and the best possible return on investment.

Unique and diverse requirements 

The training challenge is to understand and respond to the specific requirements of each individual airport – no two situations are exactly the same. 

Before recommending a training programme, experts from the Smiths Detection global training team spend time carrying out a Training Needs Analysis (TNA). This identifies training requirements across different roles plus wider organisational considerations to support implementation of the checkpoint equipment. They work closely with core staff to pinpoint existing passenger and employee pain points and also the airport’s vision for the future. In order to fully understand the current working environment, operators and supervisors are also observed carrying out their roles on different days and shifts and undergoing the existing induction training process. This ensures the training package is developed based on a full understanding of the scope of different roles.

For example, this type of upgrade can involve moving to remote screening with analysts no longer present at the lane during the screening process. In this case, it is important for staff to learn to trust that the new equipment will effectively divert bags rejected at the lane to the recheck station. 

With no personal communication between analysts and bag re-checkers, greater reliance is needed on the advanced image interpretation screens to clearly highlight the position of all threats or suspect items in the baggage. This can be a very difficult transition for both operators and supervisors and training courses can be customised to address individual questions or concerns.

Bespoke training courses

Key areas for customised training programmes include Train the Trainer; Operator training; and Supervisor training. Sessions are often delivered face-to-face and when necessary, a CT scanner can be installed at the airport purely for instructional purposes.

The training objectives cover all aspects of operating the equipment; fault finding; image analysis and enhancement; and other tasks identified for each role during the TNA. Supervisor programmes deal with using test items and first line fault diagnosis plus using a web-based system management platform. Associated recommendations can include changes to recruitment and induction training; formal leadership training; and introducing cultural awareness. A long-term communication plan can be developed to support operators transitioning between 2D and 3D imagery.

Getting ahead

Ideally, training is held before installation so staff are ready to move to the new technology as soon as it goes live. Adapting to new technology can be very challenging for staff so having customised training ahead of implementation certainly helps make the transition smooth and effective.