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New 3D luggage scanners to be rolled out in UK airports

written by Liam McAneny | December 2, 2022

Gatwick Airport Airfield (Gatwick Airport)

UK airports will begin installing more advanced security scanners by 2024 which may eliminate the need for limits on liquids.

Major UK airports will install more advanced CT security scanners progressively, with the new screening equipment currently being tested at Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

The Department of Transport told the UK’s major airports that the older technology must be phased out by 2024.

The chief executive of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye, spoke about the phasing in of the new technology.

“We are slowly rolling them out,” he said.

“We have just started the expansion of the security area in Terminal 3, which will have more CT scanners and have a deadline of mid-2024 from the DFT. By then, the normal passenger experience will be that liquids stay in bags.”

The new CT scanners will examine the baggage in 3D, rather than the 2D X-ray images that are delivered by current technology. This allows operators to inspect the items from all angles.

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One of the biggest causes of delays at airports is people forgetting to remove the required items such as laptops, tablets and liquids, but the new scanning technology will eliminate this problem.

These new scanners mean that passengers will no longer be required to remove laptops from their carry-on or restrict liquids to 100ml.

A formal announcement is expected to be made regarding the restrictions in the coming weeks.

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Airport officials are worried that passengers may receive mixed messages regarding liquid limits as the new technology is rolled out. The 100ml rule will remain in place until all scanners are replaced to avoid this.

These new scanners have been described as a game changer as they will not only reduce delays but also reduce the use of plastic in airports as passengers will no longer be required to have their liquids in plastic bags.

A ban on liquids was introduced in the UK in 2006 after a planned terror attack using liquid explosives was stopped at Heathrow.

Australian airports brought in similar policies in 2007, and as of yet no commitment to removing these restrictions had been forthcoming from officials.

However, trials of these 3D CT scanners have been conducted over the past few years at various airports across Australia.

Word on when these scanners will be used in Australia is still unconfirmed.

The Transport Safety Authority (TSA) in the US have also begun trialling 3D luggage scanning technology at airports throughout 2022. Four hundred and sixty-nine of the new scanning systems have already been ordered at a cost of US$781 million.

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