Heathrow to spend £50 million on computer tomography (CT) security scanners

In a move to obtain more detailed scans of luggage and to cut queuing times, Heathrow has announced a three-year plan to install 3D scanners.

Handling a staggering 80.6 million passengers a year, Heathrow is an airport that needs no introduction. The sheer volume of passengers presents challenges year round, especially when it comes to security and ensuring adequate screening is met for luggage.

Anticipated to represent the largest installation in the UK, the £50m upgrade will see new computed tomography (CT) security equipment, which shows a 3D image of the contents of passengers’ hand luggage, rolled out across all terminals by 2022. Using the same technology as CT scanners in hospitals, the 3D equipment will eventually replace traditional x-ray scanners. This technology was trialled successfully at the airport in 2017 and with the help of the Department for Transport other airports across the country will implement their own trials in the coming months.

Passengers will be pleased to hear that this roll out should eliminate the need for travellers to put their liquids in sealed plastic bags – a necessary response to the 2006 terror plot to blow up transatlantic jets using explosive material hidden in soft drinks bottles. Heathrow have advised however that the 100ml restriction would still remain unchanged after the introduction of the new scanners. Furthermore, laptops and other electronic devices should be able to remain in hand luggage at the checkpoint.

Chief operating officer Chris Garton said: “This cutting-edge equipment will not only keep the airport safe with the latest technology but will also mean that our future passengers can keep their focus on getting on with their journeys and spend less time preparing for security screening.”

He goes on to say: “Heathrow has a proud history of investing in making every journey better for our customers and that’s why we’re delighted to be rolling out our new 3D security screening machines.”

Aviation minster Baroness Vere said: “Passenger safety remains our top priority and this programme clearly shows the huge importance we place on security.

“This innovative new equipment will ensure Heathrow continues to provide a safe and smooth travel experience for passengers, as we look to roll out this new screening technology at airports across the country.”

The UK government has committed to funding worth up to £1 million to enable pioneering aviation security solutions in a bid to further strengthen aviation security and support the development of solutions that could lead to increased security effectiveness, shorter queues and faster more efficient screening at airports.

As a trusted supplier of services to the X-Ray scanning industry, Shape Services are naturally looking forward to seeing these advancement roll out and we’ll certainly be keeping a keen eye on the project.


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