A powerful new breed of security scanner is being trialled at London Heathrow airport that could see an end to the strict regulations of unpacking liquids for inspection. Thanks to capabilities of the computed tomography (CT) scanners they are able to produce images of the inside of luggage, including explosives. Should the scanners enter widespread use it would mean that passengers would no longer need to remove liquids from bags, cutting down on queues while at the same time improving security.
The UK’s policy of not allowing more than 100ml bottles of liquid has been in place since 2006 and is observed on all transatlantic flights, as well as a majority of other countries. The trial will take place at London Heathrow for between six and 12 months and has already been tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol and New York’s John F Kennedy airports.
The Department for Transport (DfT) – the UK government body responsible for security protocols at UK airports – said that the new CT scanners would bolster the “state-of-the-art automated screening lanes” that it already has in place at many of the UK’s airports.
A spokesperson from the DfT said it would initially introduce the units on a small selection of security lanes and is working with international partners to develop them further before wider implementation. “The UK has some of the strictest security measures in the world, and we are leading the way in using new technology to improve security screening and provide a better experience for passengers," they said. "If successful, this could lead in future to passengers no longer needing to remove items from hand luggage for screening."
At the beginning of the year, Transport Security World reported on the UK’s commitment to improving the check-in process at its airports, after it released £1.8 million of funding to develop technologies that improve efficiency and safety. One of the four innovations receiving the money is Security Screening Technologies, a UK company that has developed created a unit that detects shoes for explosive materials that could call time on having to remove footwear. The DfT’s Future Aviation Security Solutions programme also set aside funding for an x-ray learning algorithm that recognises unexpected items in bags, and a walk-through passenger scanner that reduces the number of passengers having to take part in manual checks.
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