A new scanning technology soon-to-be deployed at Heathrow Airport in London could mean passengers may keep their liquids and laptops inside baggage when going through security.
In collaboration with the UK Department for Transportation, the airport plans to roll out a £50 million investment over the next few years in an upgrade that representatives say will streamline security processes and reduce the amount of single-use plastics as passengers will no longer be required to put their liquids in plastic bags. Additionally, passengers will be able to carry liquids over 100 milliliters through security, The Telegraph reports.
“Heathrow has a proud history of investing in making every journey better and that’s why we’re delighted to be rolling out our new CT equipment,” said Heathrow Chief Operations Officer Chris Garton in a statement. “This cutting-edge kit 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 less time preparing for security screening.”
Computed tomography (CT) used at airports is the same technology that hospitals employ to identify disease or injury in patients, whereby imaging of a person (or bag) produces a narrow beam of X-rays that generate cross-sectional images, according to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. But new advances in 3D scanning technology allow for more detailed and robust images using algorithms capable of detecting explosives and other threats by viewing and rotating objects for inspection. The Transport Security Administration in the US is also working to employ 3D scanning and has CT technology checkpoints at a number of airports nationwide
“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,” said UK Aviation Minister Baroness Vere.
The technology will not be available to all terminals immediately and passengers can still expect to remove laptops and liquids from their bags as the scanner is gradually rolled out. Airport representatives note that 3D CT scanning does not eliminate the need for additional screening conducted by security officers.
The endeavor has been in the works since 2017 and Heathrow – the first airport in the UK to employ 3D CT scanning – hopes to have the technology installed across terminals by 2022.