Drunken Passengers Responsible for Most Emergency Incidents at European Airports

An in-depth study of European air terminals conducted by the EU-funded BEMOSA Project indicates that the majority of airport security officers do not rely primarily on procedures or rules

Mar 20, 2012, 11:51 ET from BEMOSA

HAIFA, Israel, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

The majority of emergency incidents occurring in airports are related to drunk and aggressive passengers, according to intermediate conclusions of the first in-depth study of European airports, conducted by the EU-funded BEMOSA Consortium.

The results will be presented at a special workshop hosted by BEMOSA in Brussels on March 19, 2012.

The report, which is based on 360 interviews held at eight different European airports, found that major security actions taken by airport security employees relate to confiscation of illegal items and dealing with unruly passengers.

Based on the interviews, BEMOSA researchers compiled a list of episodes representing different situations in which security agents were required to take a decision and act. The report indicates that 131 of all 369 reported critical incidents which represented a direct threat to safety stemmed from passengers carrying prohibited articles, including knives, guns and ammunition.

Ninety incidents involved unruly and disruptive people, mainly drunk passengers. These incidents caused major disruptions to security procedures as security personnel reported they often needed help from co-workers or the police when facing drunken people.

"The results illustrate the complexity of actual behaviour in airports. There is a definite need to improve security decision-making abilities as there is a gap between procedures and actual behaviour when a threat is recognized," said the Technion Israel's Prof. Alan Kirschenbaum, a world expert in disaster management and BEMOSA's initiator and coordinator.

"Security decisions tend to be inconsistent as employees regard most threats as false alarms, have never faced a real threat and have pre-biased estimates of what constitutes a threat," he said.

The report indicates that airport employees do not rely primarily on procedures or rules and more than one-third admitted they exceeded or bent the rules when the situation called for it. The interviews also revealed that employees' concerns are not perceived to be terror related but are primarily passenger related.

BEMOSA's research aims to describe real behaviour patterns in order to develop airport staff training programs for improving crisis handling and hazard reduction.


BEMOSA (Behaviour Modelling for Security in Airports) is a Europe-wide research project aimed at improving security in airports through enhancing the capability of airport authority personnel to correctly identify potential security hazards and reduce false alarms.

BEMOSA, which is co-funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, has developed a behaviour model that aims to describe how people make security decisions in the face of reality during "normal routine" and crisis situations. This is expected to result in increased security, reduced false alarms and increased profitability.

For information about BEMOSA, visit http://www.bemosa.eu.

Simon van Dam
Project Manager
Tel: +972-54-4563384
E-mail: bemosa@bemosa.eu