Now, X-ray scanning for fliers

Now, X-ray scanning for fliers


A combination of images shows an airport staff member (L) demonstrating a full body scan at Manchester Airport and a computer screen showing the results of a full body scan (R) on Tuesday. AFP

Originally, passengers had to remove their jackets when passing through airport security. Then it was belts, and soon shoes had to come off too.

But those who feared that losing one’s trousers was the next logical step will find scant comfort in the news that an X-ray machine that produces “naked” images of passengers will be introduced at a British international airport.

As well as enabling staff to instantly spot any hidden weapons or explosives, the full-body scanner being trialled at Manchester airport will leave little to the imagination of airport security staff.

Travellers can refuse to undergo the virtual strip at Terminal 2 and choose a traditional “pat down” search instead, according to the airport, which admits that some travellers may feel uncomfortable about using the new technology.

The scan’s black and white image will be seen by one officer in a remote location before it is deleted, said Sarah Barrett, head of customer experience at the airport.

“Most of our customers do not like the traditional ‘pat down’ search, they find it too intrusive, but they still want to be kept safe. This scanner completely takes away the hassle of needing to undress. The images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way,” Barrett said.

The scanners, made by the firm RapiScan Systems at a cost of £80,000 each, were trialled at Heathrow airport in 2004. The Department for Transport will decide whether to install them permanently at the end of the trial, which is expected to last for a year.

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