Manchester Airport to stop using "naked" body scanners
9:05am Monday 17th September 2012 in Local
MANCHESTER Airport have announced they will stop using “naked” body scanners next month.
The controversial scanners, which allow airport security officers to view ghost-like body outlines of passengers have been trialed by the airport.
From October 1, they will be replaced by five new next generation security scanners in a trial expected to last three months.
In line with Government policy, these include a feature which automatically processes images of passengers using a system that eliminates the need for an airport security officer to view the ghost-like body outlines that made the airport’s body scanners famous.
The new machines, manufactured by L3, scan passengers using radio frequency-based millimetre wave technology rather than the low dose x-rays used by the current back scatter body scanners. A computer analyses the scans and tell airport staff where to look for hidden objects using a stick figure diagram.
A similar technology is used in safety systems to identify humans or objects that have fallen onto subway rail tracks in the US.
Despite a panel of independent European health experts unanimously concluding in March that there was no evidence that backscatter body scanners posed health risks, Airport bosses say its current trial will close in six weeks because legislation from Brussels excludes the technology.
Andrew Harrison, chief operating officer at M.A.G, Manchester Airport’s parent company, said: "We’re baffled by this situation because health experts say they are safe plus the overwhelming majority of our passengers and security staff prefer body scanners to frisking and it’s frustrating that Brussels has allowed this successful trial to end.
“Our security surveys and those run by the Department for Transport show passengers regularly rate their experience at Manchester as one of the best security processes in the UK if not Europe.
“There’s no doubt that body scanners play a big part in these results. That’s why we are once again investing in new next generation scanner technology where the human examination of images is automated.”
Airport bosses are hopeful that the trial will be a success so that it can invest in more machines.
In the meantime, an additional 55 full time security staff will ensure that the current high levels of security and customer service are maintained through a combination of frisking and security scanners.