New technology could halve airport queues

25 Sep 2009 by Mark Caswell

New scanning techniques could halve the length of airport queues, according to the CEO of Smith Group, a global security and technology company.

Technology now developed means passengers do not have to take laptops out of the bags to be checked, Philip Bowman of Smith Group said.

Speaking at the European Security Forum in Brussels, Mr Bowman said: “Smiths Detection has now developed the kit that we believe can securely screen laptops without first removing them from passengers’ bags.

“Lifting the laptop restriction could make an early, practical improvement to the lives of the travelling public – perhaps halving the length of Europe’s airport queues.

“That’s why I believe we should be making faster progress on testing the technology to ensure it meets the right levels of security assurance and to allow it to be used.”

Mr Bowman said the current airport security policies on screening laptops and liquids restricted freedom of movement. He said everyone understood the “compelling reasons” why they were introduced, pointing to the trial in the UK earlier this month were three men were jailed for life for conspiring to blow up airliners mid-Atlantic. It was the discovery of this plot in August 2006 that led to many of the current restrictions.

But Mr Bowman said travellers were entitled to ask for how long these constraints were kept in place and “when, given the developments in screening technology we have seen in recent years, these restrictions will be lifted”.

He said he wondered if the same energy and élan were applied to lifting restrictions as to imposing them.

Bowman added: “With the April 2010 deadline fast approaching for reaching a screening solution that eliminates the need to remove liquids from carry-on baggage, it is fair to say that an injection of energy and élan is now more than necessary so that we can improve the passenger experience – and get Europe moving more freely, and queuing less frequently.”


Report by Stanley Slaughter

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