A new X-ray screening machine that can automatically detect explosives and liquids in passengers' hand luggage is to be introduced at the United Kingdom's main airports was announced this week in London.
The ten year deal worth at least £20 million means the British Airports Authority, BAA, will replace all existing X-ray screening systems for hand luggage at its seven UK airports with the new aTiX system from Smiths Detection - part of the Smiths Group. The system, standing for Advanced Threat Identification X-ray, is designed not only to combat terrorism but improve journey times through airports for passengers. BAA's seven UK airports are Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. This is the first time new X-ray technology has been deployed at UK airport checkpoints for a decade. The aTiX system replaces conventional X-ray systems with computerized machines that take multiple views of a carry-on bag in the time it takes existing technology to show a single view. The aTiX system will be complemented by other new concepts, also developed by Smiths Detection, which will smooth the process of screening carry-on bags as part of the package for BAA. These include automatic tray return systems that minimize operator handling of trays, speed the movement of non-threat bags and divert suspicious bags down a separate channel for further investigation. Stephen Phipson, group managing director of Smiths Detection, said: "This is an important contract that will have global implications for aviation security. BAA has taken a lead in passenger processing through its fundamental reappraisal of the screening process and setting a standard that other airports are soon likely to follow".