Changi Airport tests new body scanner, machine for hand luggage

Travellers walk past an entrance to the transit area in the departure hall of the Changi Airport, Singapore, on April 19, 2016.
Travellers walk past an entrance to the transit area in the departure hall of the Changi Airport, Singapore, on April 19, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - Changi Airport is testing new systems that will not only boost security but reduce inconvenience for travellers.

The trials are being carried out at two boarding gates at Terminal 3 from now until June.

The first involves the use of a new computed tomography (CT) security screening equipment to screen hand luggage.

This will allow the checks to be done without passengers having to remove electronic devices such as laptops and tablets from their bags and placing them in a separate tray.

To improve the process, the trial will also comprise a new automatic tray return system.

With this automated system, trays can be presented to two passengers simultaneously at the start of the screening belt, enabling both to deposit their bags at the same time.

The trays are automatically returned to the line after each screening cycle is completed, removing the need for security screening officers to manually bring the trays back to the start of the screening belt.

This will improve screening efficiency and reduce waiting times for passengers, said Changi Airport Group (CAG) during a media preview on Friday (April 22).

"The overall flow will be better, and passengers will find it more expedient to pick up hand-carry luggage which have cleared screening," the airport said.

A separate trial is also being done on a new body scanner.

The machine uses millimetre wave technology to detect both metallic and non-metallic items.

Passengers, after removing items in their pockets or on their body, simply need to walk into the body scanner and be scanned, a process that takes a few seconds.

The data will be analysed by a computer algorithm.

If a concealed item is detected, a body outline - that does not show body curves and other private parts - will indicate where the item is hidden.

This allows the security officer to zoom in on the identified area to check the item.

If nothing is detected, a green screen with an "OK" appears and the passenger clears quickly.

The millimetre wave technology has been certified to be safe and poses no known health and safety risks as it utilises a very low-power non-ionising form of electromagnetic technology, Changi Airport Group said.

The amount of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the body scanner is many times smaller than that emitted by a mobile phone.

CAG's vice-president of aviation security Alan Tan said: "At Changi Airport, we take safety and security seriously and are committed to maintaining the highest standards... The data and passenger feedback we collect from the trials will help us assess the effectiveness and operational efficiencies of these new systems, before we ascertain their suitability for implementation at the airport."