Smiths Helps Bristol Airport Transform the Checkpoint Experience

Safety & Security

The vision

Help Bristol Airport to realise its vision for a checkpoint operation that improves efficiency, security and the customer experience.

The mission

Having exceeded seven million passengers a year, and sustained a 10% growth rate, Bristol Airport added a 9,000 m2 facility that would enable it to cater for some 10 million customers.

In order to attract new airlines and passengers to this new West Terminal, Bristol Airport was determined to create a new kind of checkpoint experience - one that would not only meet increasingly stringent security regulations, but that would minimise the bottlenecks, discomfort and inconvenience passengers typically associate with the process.


The innovation

Bristol Airport and a multi-supplier team including Smiths Detection joined forces in a holistic re-thinking of the security screening operation. They looked at people, processes, space and design, as well as technology.

The result is a step-change in checkpoint design and experience.

On approach, passengers enter a welcoming area where they can prepare their belongings for screening. Setting an upbeat mood is Europe’s largest digital wall, which displays a mix of destination information and short films featuring inspirational journeys made by local people.

From here, passengers enter one of the nine, 23m-long, standard x-ray lanes, one larger one that can process prams, wheelchairs or other large items not destined for the hold, or two fast-track zones. In all 12 lanes, Smiths installed its innovative HI-SCAN 6040aTiX. This is the first airport checkpoint screening solution in the world to have been certified for the new European CB C1 standards for Explosive Detection Systems (EDS).

Cleverly, this equipment is housed in soft-white, curved shells which create more personal space for customers and support the calming blue and white palette used throughout the Terminal.

The really transformative smarts, however, lie in Checkpoint.Evo, Smiths’ next-generation checkpoint software management system which allows operators to conduct their screening analysis remotely.

Images from all lanes are automatically centralised and dispatched to the next available operator, to optimise productivity and flow-through. Away from the usual distractions and intensity of a busy security zone, analysts can quickly but accurately assess the complex images. Crucially, this also reduces the ‘examination stress’ of what can be a confronting process for passengers.

Depending on the analysts’ assessments, trays are then automatically sent either through to the passenger, or discretely diverted to an area for manual checks, trace tests, or closer examination via the more compact Smiths HI-SCAN 6040i and HI-SCAN 6046si X-ray scanners.

The Smiths effect

Richard Thompson, Head of Market, UK & Ireland, Smiths Detection, said, ‘By combining an innovative approach and innovative solutions with tight teamwork, we’ve achieved a really elegant gate-to-kerb experience for Bristol Airport. This not only makes it a very attractive option for airlines and passengers alike, but will support its ambition to become one of the top airports in the UK.’

Key achievements already include:

  • Highest levels of security with exceptional detection performance and low false alarm rates
  • Fast belt speeds and highly efficient image analysis, reducing queues
  • Improved, on-time performance
  • Increased passenger satisfaction
  • Sustainable business growth

Trials in several major European airports have shown that Smiths Detection’s checkpoint solutions can reduce image evaluation time by up to two seconds; and the time operators spend handling trays by up to 13%. Passenger throughput increased by up to 36% with 550-600 trays handled per hour.