This research project is sponsored by NCC Group under Industrial Cooperative Grant from Department for Transport (DfT). The project will investigate vulnerabilities of the airport (e.g. screening equipment and physical access control) to develop mitigations and detection methods using intelligent algorithms based Machine Learning (ML). Read more Read less

This project will improve aviation monitoring system and threats detection techniques by introducing the current gap of monitoring access control for the smart airport. Existing aviation technology and process has some weakness to manage the physical attacks for screening and monitoring in the access control. Thus, the proposed security system based intelligent system mechanism will be a major step in designing a new generation of system monitoring and identification of network infrastructure to unsecured zones in airports. 
This PhD project aims to improve the access control posture of smart airports using advanced detection techniques based on developing intelligent algorithms, data analytics and machine learning acquired from an array of heterogeneous sensor types, covering cyber and physical systems.
In terms of facility, Cranfield University has a range of specialist research facilities available for different research activities including Cranfield Airport, Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) and Multi-User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation (MUEAVI). All of these facilities operate as a collaborative and flexible space, with specialist equipment available for: network infrastructure, consisting of various forms of data extraction and processing and sensors. Also, the Centre for Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems offers the environment for intelligent algorithms development, simulation, assistance with analysis, and methods for research development.
NCC Group will provide digital aviation security knowledge, expertise and experience includes methodologies and techniques for reviewing, modelling, assessing and testing of hardware, networks and system control.
The proposed project is expected to enhance airport infrastructure reliability and capability in detecting new threats. This project will identify new approaches and best practice in developing novel detection solutions that can be adopted by UK airports including the establishment of an agreed framework for the disclosure of vulnerabilities assessment.
You will be encouraged and supported in publishing own work in high-quality peer-reviewed journals. Also, you will have opportunities and supports to present the research finding at the relevant UK and international conferences.
You will gain transferrable skills by working closely with NCC group experts and will learn how to introduce new solutions using machine learning and develop new algorithms. You will also obtain knowledge on the technologies for the related disciplines, experience in developing detection and monitoring system, and learn skills for simulations and field trial tests.

At a glance

  • Application deadline30 Jul 2021
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date01 Oct 2021
  • Duration of award3.5 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSATM206


1st Supervisor: Dr Saba Al-Rubaye

2nd Supervisor: Prof Antonios Tsourdos

Entry requirements

Applicants should have an equivalent of a first or second-class UK degree, both in engineering or a related area. A background in Communications & Network Engineering, Control System, Electrical & Electronic Engineering and/or AI/ML would be a distinct advantage. The candidate should have good skills in simulation, modelling, and hardware. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest in industrial research.


This is a funded PhD open to UK, EU and International applicants.

About the sponsor

Sponsored by Department for Transport (DfT), this studentship will provide a full bursary for 3.5 years up to £16,500 (tax-free) per annum depending on qualifications, plus full free tuition fee at the UK rate.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Dr Saba Al-Rubaye
T: (0) 1234 75 4887


Prof Antonios Tsourdos
T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: 4672

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.