Airports to install scanners that don't show body contour

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is all set to install scanners which work on millimetre-wave technology at major airports across the country. These will be used in place of the X-ray body scanners at airports, which had faced objections due to privacy concerns raised by passengers.

Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport will be the first in the country in which the new scanners will be tested soon. The scanners, which are a recent invention, do not emit any kind of harmful rays and a stylised image is created after the rays bounce off the top layer of the skin. Any abnormality in the body contour, which could mean hidden explosives or weapons, will be visible on the screen for both the passengers and the security official manning it, sources said.

This scanner does not produce an image where body contour and shape is visible and only a generic image is generated. If any suspicious object is noticed, then the particular body part will be highlighted automatically. The fact that the passenger will be able to see the image is also an added advantage, an official said. "The last time, when we tested the body scanners, passengers raised privacy issues. This time, they will be able to see it then and there. It will not outline the body contours but only a generic image will be generated. Last time, no woman passenger agreed to pass through the scanner, fearing a detailed image of their body," said the official.

Officials said this did not mean that they will be doing away with pat-down searches or removing door frame metal detectors (DFMD) from the airport premises.

The ministry of civil aviation has been considering installing body scanners, since an "underwear bomb" incident at Detroit Airport in USA on Christmas in 2009.

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