The municipal Renton Airport, where Boeing shares the facility, uses wireless technology within its access control system to protect the property and assets.
Take the municipal airport of Renton, Wash., where Boeing Co. shares an aircraft production facility. The operation needed a new access control system. Located in a densely urban area, Boeing’s 737 and 757 production plant needed to upgrade the electric and pedestrian gate system providing access to the aircraft operation area as part of major security upgrade project. Hardwiring all the perimeter vehicle gates was not practical and would have been cost prohibitive. So Renton Municipal Airport implemented wireless access control technology by Recognition Source of St. Charles, Ill.

The airport’s objective was to provide an online access control solution for gates around the airport perimeter at distances up to 2,000 feet with a single point of control. "Due to lean staffing levels at the airport, linking all gates to a centralized computer system was critical to avoid having to access each gate separately to upload new proximity card users or make changes to gate operations," said Airport Manager Ryan Zulauf. "Installation of a hardwire connecting all of the vehicle gates was not possible due to construction costs and general disruption of airport operations during construction." The solicitation required the use of wireless technology.

According to both Zulauf and Robert Lefton, president of integrator Quentin Control Systems Inc., the only anticipated problem was the possibility of RF interference. Selected as the contractor for the installation, when asked if he had any preconceived ideas about wireless access control, Lefton answered yes.

"We had done two successful small wireless card system projects before this one," he said. "Consequently, I was pretty enthusiastic when the airport had a requirement for a wireless system in its specifications for the RFQ. I was enthusiastic because I knew that we had already successfully installed this equipment."

Richard Ramm of Recognition Source assisted in testing the Wyreless Access RF communications around the perimeter of the airport before the installation. The testing showed that the technology would solve the problem and no evidence of interference was noted.

Gates around the airport employ wireless access from Recognition Source to handle pro cards while communicating to the center monitoring operation.
The equipment included wireless reader interfaces (WRI), model WRI-100-OTD; panel interface modules (PIM), model PIM-OTD; and 6dB gain YAGI antennae. A PIM was located at each remote gate. The WRI were placed in the weather-tight, NEMA-4X enclosures provided by the company. The PIM-OTDs were located in the airport manager’s office with the Galaxy Control Systems’ (Walkersville, Md.) control panels to which they were connected. The YAGI antennae connected to the PIM-OTDs were installed on a control tower exterior catwalk railing, the antennae mast-mounted to the WRIs, which were in turn connected to keypad readers.

The antennae had to be elevated from their initial positions for a clear line of sight and more rigid masts used than originally planned to withstand high winds and jet blasts. The installation went smoothly and the equipment integrated seamlessly into the access control system. Installation time was about as estimated by both the airport and Quentin Controls.

"After working out a few bugs, the system has operated flawlessly. The wireless system has saved the airport hundreds of staff hours by linking all of the vehicle gates and allowing manipulation of one or all gates with a click of the mouse button," said Zalauf.