Stewart International Airport
Stewart International Airport

May 1, 1997 12:00 PM

On a typical day, approximately 70 commercial and eight cargo flights take off from Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, N.Y. Each year, nearly 800,000 passengers are transported to regional locations where they can connect with trans-continental flights.

With 1,900 acres, including a buffer zone of trees and meadows, Stewart might seem isolated from the surrounding community. In fact, this former military air base has an elaborate security system that uses the resources of three surrounding counties. The airport's own Operations Department handles security and safety on site with the help of the New York State Police and the New York Air National Guard, which provides a large fire department.

Stewart, with two runways 6,000 and 12,000 feet long, is located in New York's Hudson Valley, close to West Point Military Academy and, to the north, the Franklin D. Roosevelt home and library in Hyde Park. President Clinton is one of many dignitaries who have landed here en route to these and other destinations in the New York metropolitan area.

State police force provides security State owned, Stewart is the only New York airport with State Police as a resident security force. The State Police occupy their own headquarters at the airport and are responsible for perimeter security, parking lots, roadways, the terminal and other buildings. During emergencies, they are responsible for traffic control in and out of the airport and on nearby highways. In addition, they assume command of emergency sites once such sites have been deemed safe by the Air National Guard Fire Chief.

Last January, the highly successful integration of security functions was given a boost with the installation of the first stage of a new, comprehensive CCTV system and an automated access control/alarm system.

The passenger terminal, presently under expansion, will benefit from an integrated access control, alarm and CCTV system; the operations area will have automated access control integrated with the alarm system and a separate CCTV network. A mile of fiber-optic cable will carry video transmissions and data from across the airport to the Operations Department's control console.

On a typical day, operations manager David McCormick and airport manager Ken Noe rely on technology - in the form of the new access control, alarm and CCTV systems - as well as their own skills to perform security operations. There are actually two redundant systems, which are connected by fiber-optic cable to remote terminal units (RTUs) throughout the airport.

Monitor Dynamics Inc. RTU-200 controller panels support HID prox readers and provide local database memory to support a minimum of 1,000 cardholder records (expandable with memory expansion modules) as well as card access events, transaction queues and other alarm control information.

Proximity cards are held within 3/4 inch of readers located at access points to operations areas. The readers send a signal to the RTU granting or denying access. If a door is opened without a card, an alarm goes off at the control console immediately.

The computers are run by IBM's multi-task OS2 Warp Operating System. The system consists of a redundant file server with multiple work stations. If one file server goes down, a second will take over. The file server is also a work station, explains Gerard Romolo, project manager, Henry Brothers Electronics, Saddle Brook, N.J. The company has been working with the airport for more than a year from performance specs produced by Clough, Harbour and Associates in Albany, N.Y. Henry Brothers has hired subcontractors, integrated all electronic components of the system, and installed the project. Under development since September 1995, installation began in January 1996. The passenger terminal is presently undergoing a major expansion, with installation of the CCTV and access control systems to be completed with the expansion.

All of the access control and alarm data from the RTUs, along with video transmissions from CCTV installed at the terminal will be carried to the main file server by Fiber Options fiber-optic cable. Modems for video transmission, transmitters and receivers for the data communications provide the connections between the RTUs, the cameras and the main computers.

We needed to use fiber because of the length of the communications line, explains Romolo. It is going more than one mile, from one end of the airport to the other, underground. Fiber optics is very good for airports because it allows for lightning protection. Lightning might destroy a camera, but it will not follow the line as it would copper. It is a good surge protector and eliminates ground loops, which can distort communications and video.

Software program helps keep track Access control is provided by the MDI SAFEnet access control system, which produces custom designed reports such as the image of the proximity card's user, maps the person's location, the door the person is going through, a building schematic of the alarm system, and generates reports on reader users and people who have not used the system in 30 days.

This has been one of the biggest benefits to us because it has allowed us to completely redo our entire security system, says McCormick. The old cards were made null and void when we installed the SAFEnet System and this has allowed us to do a security check on everyone in the system, old and new. Only active employees can gain access.

The SAFEnet program has been installed on the main file server, the back-up computer (which will be installed at State Police headquarters), and the PC which is connected to the file server over a LAN and sits right beside it at a work station at the Operations Department.

CCTV protects passengers from harm A Viscom main multiplexer system at the Operations Department console controls the CCTV system, including JVC quadruple redundancy monitors that display images from the 1/2-inch Sony color, pan/tilt/zoom cameras with Pelco pressurized housings. When complete, the system will have six 9-inch and four 14-inch monitors.

Two Gyyr TLC1800TDS time-lapse VCRs record 24 hours a day and can record select occurrences in real time.

With the new access control and CCTV systems, McCormick feels he will be covered for most circumstances. His greatest concerns are with safety of both passengers and employees and with protection of passengers from theft.

When the terminal expansion and the access control and CCTV system installation are complete, McCormick will have comprehensive coverage of the terminal area and the airfield.

Before, unauthorized people would try to get through, says McCormick. People would try to get through doors in the terminal building, through the gate. One person made it up to the roof of the building to take a picture of his wife getting on a plane.

Another was in a wheelchair and wanted to see the President when he arrived so he could take his picture. We took him to a place where he could get the picture and then escorted him back to his van. Later, we saw that same individual heading across the ramp in his wheelchair to go see the President on the other side of the airport. He was planning to go across the main runway before we caught him. The general public will tax your security system more than anyone else, says McCormick.

The cameras, motorized gates and access control with its integrated alarm system will enable Operations to prevent such incidents with far greater efficiency than before.

Similarly, McCormick expects the presence of the camera system to be a detriment to employee carelessness, such as speeding, clowning around on the ramp, smoking or performing any other unsafe acts.

Cameras watch over exterior Cameras located in the Operations area cover the main ramp, the cargo ramp and the general aviation ramp areas.

One camera has a constant surveillance mode, 15-to-1 magnification, and can scan a 1/2-mile range from the ramp to the terminal building to the Air National Guard facility.

With the cameras, notes McCormick, We can see cargo flights, animal flights, military operations, any operation we want to look at, as well as employees such as fuelers, baggage handlers and caterers. The constant surveillance camera itself sweeps approximately 270 degrees.

Other cameras can be aimed at the Tower cab, the terminal ramp, cargo, passenger and private aircraft, the airfield and runways. We can monitor the runways for problems at approach and touchdown areas, says McCormick.

Additional cameras are to be installed inside and outside of the terminal building when the expansion is complete. We will be able to watch employees loading bags and people picking up bags. This should be a significant deterrent to theft, says McCormick. We will have 100 percent coverage of the security zone when the camera system is complete.

Such coverage, he acknowledges, should help if an emergency of the seriousness of the recent plane fire occurs again (see sidebar). The new CCTV system, with its VCR, might well record such an event, something that would be a great help in subsequent investigations.

If a situation occurs in an area covered by a camera, you can tape it and have it for use in training and investigation. You tend to lose track of time in an incident because you are busy controlling the site, notes McCormick.

A growing airport Stewart has grown substantially since 1991, when it began commercial flights. Formerly a military air base, it still leases space to the U.S. Army, Air National Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. But commercial business is its fastest growing segment, and the upgraded security system will make the airport safer for passengers and cargo flights alike.

The passenger terminal will grow from 39,200 to 89,000 square feet, a $15.4 million project that is due to be completed in the second half of 1997. The new terminal's $1.1 million access control program will further reinforce Stewart's position as a medium-size airport with first-class service and security. Security hazards can come from the sky

Shortly before 6 a.m. on the morning of September 5, 1996, a cargo plane was en route from Memphis, Tenn., to Boston. The plane's pilot had discovered smoke and then fire in his aircraft and had to make an emergency landing. Luckily, he was within eight miles of Stewart International.

The emergency landing brought with it smoke, fire and hazardous materials, some of them radioactive. Superior teamwork and a laboriously organized disaster plan enabled airport manager Ken Noe, operations manager David McCormick, Air National Guard fire chief John Cinquemani and State Police sergeant John Beairsto to respond instantly and effectively to the event.

Air traffic controller James Fox and operations officer Bob Garneau played crucial roles in communicating with the distressed pilot while his plane was still in the air. Before the plane landed, Garneau and Fox determined that hazardous cargo was on board. Upon hearing this information, fire chief Cinquemani immediately put out a call to Orange County Mutual Aid for full scale disaster relief.

Over 42 fire companies would eventually be working together to put out the plane's fire. Environmental clean-up experts from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) prepared for a worst-case scenario: low-level radioactive materials on board escaping into the air or the ground water.

Maintaining communication with all the different agencies was a major challenge, says Noe. The DEC, Red Cross, local political leaders, Federal Aviation Authority, National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Express and SEMO all had to be involved and kept in the information loop.

Within several hours, the fire was under control. All contingencies were dealt with from two places: an on-site Incident Command Post and the Emergency Command Center.

Back on track after emergency During the incident, McCormick and Noe were concerned with getting the airport on a normal flight schedule as soon as possible. We had a terminal of more than 500 people who had to fly out. We wanted to get the facility back to normal, says McCormick.

Noe explained that the incident occurred on the west side of the airport, but that a shorter, alternate runway is located on the east side, which made it possible to open the airport for partial operation by 8:30 a.m. By 10 a.m., planes were taking off without delay. It would be 24 hours, however, before the entire airport would be opened.

It was finally determined, said Noe, that the containers with the low level radioactive materials had not been breached. There was no leakage of these materials into the air or ground water. (The source of the Fed Ex plane fire is still being investigated, however, and has not been determined.)

Learning from experience Since the incident, the participating agencies have relied on both their hindsight and their foresight to modify the existing plan, with an eye to greater emphasis on cargo plane and environmental emergencies.

The modified plan will include a special level for cargo plane emergencies, revamped staging areas, greater participation by the DEC's law enforcement arm and automatic inclusion of the DEC's Emergency Spill Response Team in the first tier of agencies alerted to an event.

We had several large meetings where we discussed what should go into the new plan," says Noe. One important decision involved a new emergency level for strictly cargo aircraft, which require more pumpers and water and less emergency medical personnel than passenger aircraft emergencies. Making the manifests of these cargo flights easily accessible was another priority.

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