Airport Security: Could Liquid Restrictions End with 3D Baggage Scanners

An easier process going through airport security

The government in the United Kingdom wants all of the country’s major airports to have 3D baggage screening equipment in place by December 2022.

Ministers have stated that the technology will speed-up pre-boarding checks, boost security, and may even end some restrictions travelers frequently encounter when they are flying with laptops or liquids.

Similar to hospital CT scanners, the 3D baggage screening equipment is currently being placed in  London’s Heathrow Airport. The technology gives staff a clear image of the contents of a bag. 3D scanning allows airport personnel to zoom in on objects or rotate the image when a closer inspection is needed.

Current laws restrict airplane passengers from carrying more than 100 ml. The liquid must be sealed in a clear, resealable plastic bag measuring around 20cm x 20cm. These limits on liquids were first introduced in 2006, when British police reported that they had discovered and prevented a plan to blow up to ten planes using explosives that were to be smuggled aboard in drink bottles.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the plans for the new 3D scanning technology stating that they would improve airport security and cut down on the amount of time passengers spend having their bags checked.

The Prime Minister went on to say, “”By making journeys through UK airports easier than ever, this new equipment will help boost the vital role our airports play in securing the UK’s position as a global hub for trade, tourism and investment.”

London’s Heathrow airport has been using the 3D scanners on a trial basis since 2017, with positive results. Similar to 3D laser printing where every item is clearly visible, the new baggage scanners are able to tell the type of liquid a passenger has in a bottle.

John-Holland-Kaye, the chief executive at Heathrow has said that the new baggage scanners are making travel less disruptive and speeding up the amount of time passengers stand in line waiting to be scanned. Over the next two years, there are plans to have the scanners installed and operating at the other major airports in the United Kingdom.

Adding to the praise the new airport security technology is receiving is Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that said the new equipment has eliminated the need for passengers to pull out the socks, underwear, laptops, and other items just to pass through the airport security checkpoint. Liquids also won’t need to be removed, since the 3D scanner can identify the contents will the bottle is still in the luggage.

To allay fears that adding the new technology will raise airport fares, Transport Secretary Shapps reassured taxpayers that the changes would be covered by the aviation companies.

Some U.S. airports have already implemented the 3D technology. This includes Chicago’s O’Hare ad Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.

Keep reading: more articles about 3D scanning

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