The world`s busiest international airport, London Heathrow, has begun trials of a new electronic “sniffer dog” on Monday, becoming the first in the world to trial the new screening technology.
has begun trials of a 3D X-Ray machine and an enhanced detection portal at Heathrow terminal 1. The technology will be used to screen travellers and their hand baggage and represents a strong preventative barrier to the possibility of explosives and weapons being taken on-board aircraft.
As passengers enter The `Sentinel II` detection arch, air is blown across the body and clothing, gently dislodging trapped particles and vapours. Any residue is drawn into the machine and analysed for substances within seconds.
The new X-ray machine offers a three dimensional screen image of a passenger`s bag enabling security staff an enhanced view for detecting any prohibited items.
BAA`s Director of Security, Ian Hutcheson, said: “I have high hopes for both these systems and, subject to trials, I look forward to their wider introduction across BAA`s 7 UK airports. This latest equipment trial shows that we are constantly looking to enhance our security through new technologies. These trials were planned prior to recent heightened security measures at Heathrow, but the new technologies add yet further deterrent to anyone approaching the world`s busiest international airport with sinister intent.”
Both systems are being trialled for the foreseeable future at Heathrow`s busiest terminal, Terminal 1, which handles around 23 million passengers a year to and from a variety of domestic and international destinations. Under the trial, passengers will be selected at random to go through the detection portal where they stand for a few seconds before a clear signal is given to the security operator. The system is swift and does not require physical contact between security staff and passenger.
Many of T1`s security staff have already been trained in the use of the 3D X-ray machine which requires the operator to wear special glasses to gain the enhanced view on screen. The view affords improved knowledge of the shape of an object in the passenger`s bag and how it relates to other objects around it - a substantial aid in accurately detecting weapons and explosive devices. Again passengers are presently being selected at random to have their baggage screened in this way.
Mr Hutcheson said: “Initial feedback from both staff and passengers has been good. Staff are finding the equipment effective and easy to use and passengers feel reassured that we are going to even further lengths to strengthen security.
“Security at BAA airports is being bolstered by the recruitment of 750 additional security staff, improvements in hold baggage screening, and a heightened police presence. BAA invests around £165 million a year on security across it`s seven UK airports, an increase of around £25 million since September 11. While no airport in the world can guarantee 100% security, we are confident these new technologies along with existing measures keep BAA at the forefront of airport security.”