A sensor system capable of medical, safety and security monitoring in avionic and other environments (e.g. homes) is examined. For application inside an aircraft cabin, the system relies on an optical cellular network that connects each seat to a server and uses a set of database applications to process data related to passengers’ health, safety and security status. Health monitoring typically encompasses electrocardiogram, pulse oximetry and blood pressure, body temperature and respiration rate while safety and security monitoring is related to the standard flight attendance duties, such as cabin preparation for take-off, landing, flight in regions of turbulence, etc. In contrast to previous related works, this article focuses on the system’s modules (medical and safety sensors and associated hardware), the database applications used for the overall control of the monitoring function and the potential use of the system for security applications. Further tests involving medical, safety and security sensing performed in an real A340 mock-up set-up are also described and reference is made to the possible use of the sensing system in alternative environments and applications, such as health monitoring within other means of transport (e.g. trains or small passenger sea vessels) as well as for remotely located home users, over a wired Ethernet network or the Internet. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.