CT scanners on trial at Heathrow could bring end to liquids ban

New 3D scanners being trialled at Heathrow airport could mean the end of the strict rules on carrying liquids on to planes.

Computed tomography (CT) scanners, widely used in hospitals for scanning patients, can give a detailed image of the inside of a suitcase.

The regulations on carrying liquids, which require passengers to keep liquids of up to 100ml in transparent plastic bags, came into force in 2006.

The new technology, which could lead to the removal of the 100ml limit, has been tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and John F Kennedy airport in New York City.

A spokesperson for Heathrow said: “We continue to look at new technologies that can both improve the passenger experience and strengthen our security.”

The Department for Transport said it would deploy CT scanners at a small number of security lanes in Heathrow for trials of six to 12 months along with automatic explosive detection technology.

“If successful, this could lead in future to passengers no longer needing to remove items from hand luggage for screening,” the DfT said. The scanners are already used to check hold baggage.

Some passengers using those lanes will therefore not need to remove their laptops or liquids from their luggage, as the scanner allows security personnel to look at the contents from every angle.

Philip Baum, of Aviation Security International magazine, said: “It is the beginning of the end of the liquid ban, and it’s long overdue.”

The current rules were introduced after a terrorist plot to bomb transatlantic flights using liquid explosives.

The Heathrow terminal or terminals to be used for testing the scanners have yet to be specified, and DfT said passengers should still expect to be asked to remove items from their bags.

A spokesperson for DfT said: “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.

“We already have state-of-the-art automated screening lanes in place at many of our airports, and new X-ray technology with automatic explosive detection capability is now being trialled in the UK.”


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