CT technology expected by 2022 may ease passenger stress and cut queues
Airport security queues could soon be less stressful for Heathrow passengers who should be able to keep liquids and laptops in their hand baggage when new 3D scanners are introduced.
Following successful trials of the new equipment, the UKs biggest airport plans to spend 50m on new scanners across its four terminals by 2022.
The computed tomography (CT) scanners, used in hospitals to scan patients, produce more detailed images that allow security staff to assess cabin bags with electronic equipment and liquids inside.
The technology is expected to lead to a relaxation of current rules, which state that passengers can only carry liquids such as toiletries or medicine in individual containers of 100ml or less, with the items placed in a separate, clear plastic bag to pass through security. The changes should cut queuing times, as well as reduce plastic waste.
There are hopes that the improved technology could potentially end the liquids ban altogether. However, abolition would likely require the scanners to be installed at all airports, an expensive process that could take several years beyond Heathrows 2022 target.
The CT technology is used at some airports in Europe and the US including Amsterdams Schiphol airport and JFK in New York but Heathrow was the first UK airport to install the scanners, which it started testing in 2017. The Department for Transport is planning to trial the scanners at other UK airports this summer.
The aviation minister, 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.
Heathrows chief operations officer, Chris Garton, added: This cutting-edge equipment will not only keep the airport safe with the latest technology, but will mean that our future passengers can keep their focus on getting on with their journeys and spend less time preparing for security screening.