Heathrow Airport is to trial a new scanning technology that could help prevent passengers from having to remove liquids from their hand luggage during airport security checks.
As part of the trial, the London hub will install 3D X-rays in its scanning machines that will allow security staff to check liquid items from inside bags. The new technology is also able to detect explosives.
The process of removing liquids from hand luggage was implemented across the globe in 2006, after UK police foiled a terror plot using a liquid-based explosive. The rule was introduced amid fears of terrorist attacks during transatlantic flights but has since led to longer security checks.
The new computerised tomography (CT) scanners could help simplify checking procedures, especially for low-cost airlines where passengers tend to fly with hand luggage only.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) said a small number of trials were set to last between six and 12 months in a bid to assess the feasibility of the technology, which has also been tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and New York’s John F Kennedy Airport.
It comes five years after the European Commission expressed its wish for ‘technological screening’ to help end liquid restrictions across Europe.
A DfT spokesperson told the BBC: “The UK has some of the strictest security measures in the world, and we are leading the way in using new technology to improve security screening and provide a better experience for passengers.
“If successful, this could lead in future to passengers no longer needing to remove items from hand luggage for screening. We continue to work closely with our international counterparts to harness the latest advances in technology.”
According to the DfT, current rules on the size and capacity of liquid containers, which must hold no more than 100ml and be put inside a re-sealable plastic bag, will remain in place throughout the duration of the trial.
The department said that the scanner will allow baggage screeners “to use 3D imagery to look at objects from all angles”.