Leidos Security Detection & Automation SmartLanes® at John F. Kennedy International Airport

Project Description

Company Facts

Name: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
Location: New York
Industry: Airport


  • Increase the flow of passengers through terminals
  • Integrate with existing X-ray machines
  • Improve baggage scan and search security process with automation
  • Ease bottlenecks, reduce queues and improve access to security trays
  • Produce a UL- and TSA-approved solution



Success highlights

  • 19 Mach-SmartLane systems installed into three terminals
  • Scalable solution delivered on time
  • Increased passenger flow through security
  • Reduced queues and bottlenecks
  • Improved passenger experience at JFK

Our approach

JFK is the premier international gateway to the United States, with 70 carriers serving 100 international nonstop destinations and more than 400,000 aircraft operations. With passenger numbers growing, the need to improve the passenger experience at JFK, particularly when passing through security, was growing ever more pressing. Previously, the bag "scan and search" lanes had been  reliant on manual interventions. This caused delays, as did the serial divesting system that was used.

Working closely with Delta Airlines and American Airlines, as well as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), we delivered and  installed the Mach-SmartLane solution into Terminals 2, 4 and 8 at JFK.

Based upon parameters supplied by the airport, the Mach-SmartLane solution was initially modelled by MacDonald Humfrey on simulation software. This provided our client with a working view on how automation could improve operational efficiency, reduce queue times and congestion and enhance safety and security.

With the simulation a success, 19 Mach-SmartLane installations were fitted and integrated with existing scanning machines. One of the major upgrades was the incorporation of a parallel loading tray system, immediately reducing waiting times. The lanes allow several passengers to concurrently fill trays with personal belongings, and proceed to body scanners, allowing many more passengers to be screened each hour. Previously, a particularly slow passenger could block the system for fellow travellers; now other passengers can simply pick their trays and move on, getting quickly through security and into the secure retail areas where airport profits are made.

Unlike conventional checkpoint systems, which are labor intensive and where staff are often under great pressure to move passengers along quickly, the Mach-SmartLane automated solution at JFK has reduced checkpoint staffing levels. Operational efficiency has increased with easy loading and unloading of hand baggage while the automated tray return system eliminates the need for repetitive manual handling of trays by checkpoint personnel.

The Mach-SmartLane installations also provided an Auto Decision Table, which speeds up the process used when a bag is identified as a threat by the scanner operator and needs to be manually searched. Previously a scanner operator would stop to communicate with the bag searcher and halt the entire system to manually remove the identified threat from the rest of the baggage. Mach-SmartLane enables the identified baggage threat to be automatically diverted to a separate lane for a security check with just the push of a button. Other passengers move along and are not inconvenienced by the bottleneck that otherwise would have occurred.

The footprint of the Mach-SmartLane system at JFK was designed to fit neatly within the space available. The system is modular and flexible and each installation can be designed and configured to suit the individual situation, even where space is restricted.

MacDonald Humfrey was the first company approved by the TSA to integrate with leading manufacturers of checkpoint X-ray machines, meaning the company was in a prime position to help international airports such as JFK to process passengers quickly and efficiently while improving security.  Mach-SmartLane is also product safety certified and has achieved both CE and UL certification.

“From running the simulation, to installation and integrating the Mach-SmartLane  hardware with the existing X-ray scanning technology, MacDonald Humfrey has provided a total systems solution for those terminals,” says Martin Lucca, Senior Project Manager.  “The solution has improved the passenger experience and flow times, improved security processes and made a highly noticeable difference in the terminals at JFK.”