Heathrow Airport Trial New Scanning Technology
In a six to twelve month long trial, Heathrow Airport is sampling impressive 3D computed tomography (CT) scanners that could spell the end of the liquids ban on flights..
If you’re fed up with the long-winded packing process when it comes to your hand luggage –the 100ml limit, trying to pick only your most essential toiletries, or desperately trying to find a plastic bag, new technological developments could cheer you up.
The CT scanners are the same as those that are currently widely used in hospitals for scanning patients. The technology’s precision and detail could offer simplified, quicker travel for everyone, as liquids would not need to be removed.
The UK is lagging slightly behind other airports that have already tried and tested the 3D scanners, such as Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and John F Kennedy Airport in New York.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said “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.
The CT scanners have the ability to view bags and detect explosives from every angle
“We already have state of the art automated screening lanes… at many of our airports and new X-ray technology with automatic detection capability is now being trialled in the UK.”
Although it is unclear which terminals in particular will be trialling the new technology, passengers that queue in those lanes in particular will not have to remove their laptops or liquids from their luggage, as the scanners can view bags and detect explosives from every angle.
A look into why the rules originally came into place
The introduction of the strict airline liquid ban came into fruition across Europe due to a failed bomb plot at Heathrow Airport back in August 2006.
Three British men were convicted of conspiring to assemble improvised explosive devices on board ten transatlantic flights. It was one of the biggest terrorist conspiracies ever witnessed in the UK.
To begin with, as a result of the tightening of security, calamity across all UK airports ensued.
Airport staff struggled to cope under the strain, baggage systems were overrun and queues in airport came to a standstill. Baggage systems were unable to cope with double or triple the number of items on conveyor belts.
Frustration at the long term liquid ban
Yet apparently, the ban was not supposed to be this troubling on such a permanent scale. What has turned into, so far, a twelve year ban was initially intended to be a short term measure.
One just becomes acclimatised to a world where passing through an airport is plain hard going…. Is it a secret plan by airports to ensure maximum duty-free sales?
The European Commission reflects on this, stating, “This ban was envisaged as a temporary restriction to be lifted when suitable technology to screen liquids for explosives became readily available.”
Malcolm Ginsberg, Editor in Chief of Business Travel News, is certainly frustrated by the taxing security procedure: “One just becomes acclimatised to a world where passing through an airport is plain hard going.
Why the 100ml maximum size for liquids? … Is it a secret plan by airports to ensure maximum duty-free sales? When is this ‘temporary’ restriction going to be lifted? It was supposed to be 18 months ago”.
Hopeful prospects for an easier airport journey
Currently across the UK, all liquids, including drinks, cosmetics, toiletries and food produce must be separate and in clear, resealable bags, in quantities no larger than 100ml.
“It is the beginning of the end of the liquid ban, and it’s long overdue.”
For a full summary of the hand luggage restrictions, please consult the Department for Transport website.
Philip Baum, from Aviation Security International magazine, seemed pleased by this latest development: “It is the beginning of the end of the liquid ban, and it’s long overdue.”
This website gives an overview of all items that passengers are permitted to pack in their hand luggage.