Lake Highlands resident Randy Stout has an invention that’s future is definitely up in the air. Stout and partner George Ashmore have created an airport device that identifies bombs by detecting electronic energy.
Not only does it detect bombs, but it re-pressurizes the compartment the piece of luggage or object is placed in to detect bombs that are made to activate once the plane has reached a certain altitude.
“There is no known device other than a bomb that becomes electronically active in the air,” says Stout, who owns Stout’s Security in Lake Highlands.
Altitude-triggered bombs became an issue as a result of the Lockerbie, Scotland, airplane crash in 1988 and an Air France airline bombing in 1989.
The machine can detect – and trigger – a bomb explosion, Stout says.
When and if a bomb explodes during the detection process, steam will slip from the machine’s sides, along with a thud-like noise, says Stout, who has lived in Lake Highlands since 1956.
The pair have a patent on the device in the United States, the European Economic Community and Israel.
Joe Dealey, director of public affairs at D/FW Airport, says he spoke with Stout and Ashmore about the device before they received their patent.
The airline carriers at D/FW are in-charge of their own pre-screening devices, says Dealey, but it is only inevitable that airports and airline carriers will eventually equip themselves with new technology.
“This particular product is one of many that should be considered for use at airports all over the world,” Dealey says.
The FBI viewed Stout’s machine in action and recommended further investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration, Stout says.
“The FAA told the FBI that they doubted that two guys in Dallas could have come up with something that all of their doctorates at different universities couldn’t,” Stout says.
Stout has spoken with several FAA people, but it’s a slow process to find the right person with enough power to advocate the device, Stout says.
Within two hours of the recent TWA crash, Stout says he received a call from a manufacturing company he proposed the device to several years ago; the company wanted to know if Stout and his partner still had the device, Stout says.
His machine costs about $100,000 and each piece of luggage takes 45 seconds to test, Stout says. The latest X-ray machine, which costs about $1 million and takes several minutes to test each object, he says.
The other big difference between Stout’s machine and an X-ray machine is that the X-ray machine requires the operator to visually identify the bomb, Stout says.
The machine needs market, Stout says. Either the FAA needs to mandate the device for the nation’s airports, or airline carriers need to purchase the device as a marketing advantage for their carrier, Stout says.
“People have told me that the FAA is almost an impossible hurdle to overcome,” says Stout, looking a little frustrated.