Energetic Materials

Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology

Safety and security research

Test Center for Explosives Detection Systems, operated on behalf of the German Federal Police

The testing and certification of explosives detection systems in a realistic testing environment is essential for security services and end users such as airport operators to obtain reliable performance data. The selection of the devices used in the aviation security sector, which is based on these results, ensures a uniform security standard throughout Europe.


In a context of increasing terrorist threats, which mainly focus on targets that generate maximum public and media attention, the European Commission decided to introduce relevant safety precautions in the field of civil aviation.  One direct measure in 2006 was the prohibition of liquids in hand luggage.  At the same time various security research programs were initiated and the ECAC, as an experienced institution in the field of civil aviation security, received a mandate to create an evaluation process for detection systems. This process allows an objective assessment of the performance and offers a direct comparison between the devices.  The certification of the devices is based on the test results obtained by the EU Member States. The goal will be to introduce a standardized security system in the airports of all EU Member States.

In cooperation with the German Federal Police the Fraunhofer ICT established the National Test Center for the Evaluation of Explosives Detection Systems. Commissioned by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), we test and certify the detection systems used in European airports. In the context of a European collaboration the Fraunhofer ICT played a significant role in developing the standardized testing method, in particular the security concept and stability investigations into liquid explosives (IEs - improvised explosive mixtures).
The Fraunhofer ICT also offers the manufacturers of explosives detection systems the possibility to conduct private measurement series using tailored testing scenarios, in which the basic parameters of various explosives can be measured.

ECAC certification test

The official ECAC certification test covers the following explosives detection systems:

  • Metal detectors (WTMD)
  • Detection systems for checked baggage (EDS)
  • Detection systems for hand luggage (LEDS { A-D Type}, ACBS)
  • Security scanners
  • Trace detection systems (ETD)


The application from the manufacturer is made under the framework of the ECAC's "common evaluation process" (ECAC-CEP), in the ECAC office. The system developers receive a limited feedback after the final meeting. The results of the performance analysis are passed on to the ECAC within classified reports. Systems which have not achieved the defined performance standard can retake the certification test after system development or, in some specific cases, can take a so-called "simulated retest" (SRT) on basis of a raw data set from an experimental testing series.

ICT test

The ICT test includes a tailored testing procedure. Depending on the type of system, the manufacturer can choose between a multitude of solid, liquid or traces of explosives from the commercial or military sectors, as well as so-called "home made" explosives. A representative luggage set is also available, with which the detection of explosives in hand luggage can be simulated. Besides measuring the detection performance for actual explosives, the false alarm rate can be determined using so-called "benign sets" comprising 500 samples such as cans, care products, spirits etc. A detailed test report is created and the raw data set is made available to the client.

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