Italy is one of the most important European markets for airport and ground support equipment, with its 30 major and 70 minor airfields, handling 128 million passengers yearly, an air freight cargo activity of nearly 950,000 tons and air transportation movements totaling over 1,700,000 in 2006. Most of this activity was concentrated in the ten largest Italian airports, whose passenger traffic amounted to 98.8 million, split as follows: Rome (Fiumicino and Ciampino), 35,700,000; Milan (Malpensa and Linate), 31,400,000; Venice, 6,700,000; Catania, 5,700,000; Naples, 5,500,000; Bergamo, 5,400,000; Palermo, 4,300,000; Bologna,4,100,000.
Since the worldwide crisis of September 11, 2001, the whole scenario of air transportation changed as increased concern was placed on security and safety issues and on improvements in support equipment, management and services. Security and safety are today on top of the Italian Government investment list and there has been a concentrated effort to improve safety and security products and services. This is the result of a number of laws and directives issued by various entities as a direct consequence of the terrorist attack.
Current changes include:
- EEC regulation n. 1546/2006. The European Commission adopted this regulation to fill the gap in aviation security by restricting liquids that passengers can take through the security check and onto the aircraft. The liquids have to be carried in individual containers not exceeding 100 ml in capacity (based on maximum capacity as printed on the container) and all of them contained in one transparent re-sealable plastic bag not exceeding 1 liter in capacity. The plastic bag must be presented separately at the security check, and one plastic bag per person is allowed.
- EEC regulation n. 2320 of December 2002, modified by EEC regulation n. 894 of April 2004, issued recommendations in regard to security of airports, aircraft, passengers, hand luggage, cargoes, luggage storage, mail cargo, material and supplies for aircraft cleaning. It also defined the various areas within airport jurisdiction.
- In 2002 The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defined the objectives of the various member states in regard to passenger, crew staff and land personnel safety. ICAO stresses the need for improved international cooperation and research development in the area of airport security. Member states should also develop a national security plan for the civil aviation.
- Law n. 166 of August 2002 essentially implemented the ICAO’s recommendations into Italian law.
The market is expected to expand with increased near/medium term investments, both private and public, for airport expansion, upgrading of existing structures and purchase of ground support equipment and systems. More financing is also expected in the short term to cover expenditures for new and/or upgraded security and safety structures and systems. The U.S. industry is recognized for its technological leadership in advanced products and quality standards. U.S. manufacturers and engineering and consulting companies have selected opportunities in the market for those specialized sectors where state of the art technology is most needed.
Related to safety issues, capacity problems are one of the other major concerns of airports and aviation authorities at present. With air traffic increasing at an average rate of 6 per cent per year, airports, both large and small, are feeling the strain of managing more and more planes within their limited facilities. By the end of 2008 Italy expects that most of the largest operative airports will have introduced the directions deriving from the project Safe – Airport. This project is supported and financed by the European Commission, and involves the major universities and companies whose research centers are at the cutting edge of development of alternative solutions. Its implementation should improve the Air Traffic Management procedures through acoustic technologies, developing an Innovative Acoustic System for aircraft noise emissions monitored in the ATZ (Aerodrome Traffic Zone).
Italian airport authorities are focusing their primary attention on the following areas where improvements are deemed necessary: anti-intrusion systems, automated baggage handling systems (BHS), closed circuit video cameras (CCTV), approach surveillance radars, sea rescue equipment, precision approach path indicators and radars, digital x-ray systems, fire detection and extinguishing equipment and all the broad range of services related to airport operations. For passengers and hand luggage, airports are adopting the latest technologies in hand and window metal detectors (HMD and WMD) as well as Explosive Trace Detection Systems (ETDS). For cargo luggage: Primary Explosive Detection Systems (PEDT) and Explosive Detection Systems (EDS). For mail and parcels check: multi-level systems with Threat Image Projection software. U.S. companies should concentrate their efforts in pursuing opportunities in the above sub-sectors.
As a result of directives issued by ENAC, (ENAC is the Italian Civil Aviation Agency of the Ministry of Transportation and can be considered the equivalent of the FAA in the United States), airport authorities have been concentrating their efforts in the development and/or improvement of security and safety systems or passenger aids such as runway extensions, anti-intrusion systems, scanners, metal and explosive detectors, tracking systems and other airport and ground support equipment and emergency systems/services. Several projects of this kind are currently in progress.
Major works are under way at the Venice Marco Polo airport (upgrading of two runways and of ground support equipment); at the Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino airports (airplane parking facilities, third runway, commercial space); at the Naples Capodichino airport (instrument landing systems, improvement of taxi ways and runways); and at the Bari Palese airport (new terminal, multi-level parking). Major tenders are published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (Official Gazette of Italian Laws, the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register). Other tenders are generally published in the major national newspapers (Sole 24 Ore, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica).
The official Flight Assistance and Control Company, ENAV SpA, is investing $1.2 billion for the period 2004/2009, 79% of which will be devoted to improving safety levels by restructuring or re-building control towers, ground control communications, airport refurbishing, last generation radars, and communication networks; the remaining will be used for security measures improvement. ENAV strictly cooperates with EUROCONTROL, the European Commission and other Air Navigation Service Providers. This collaboration is based on research and development. Simulation and pre-operational validation projects of new technologies and procedures are the instruments used to reach safe, efficient and effective results within the Air Traffic Management System.