Manchester Airport gets X-ray scanners

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But the trial of passenger scanning tech might be controversial, Manchester Airport has admitted.

Manchester Airport is trialling a new X-ray system to scan passengers.

The year-long voluntary trial in the airport’s Terminal 2 shows security officers an outline of passengers and whatever they’re carrying, so travellers no longer need to remove coats or shoes or be patted down by airport staff.

“Our passengers tell us that they don’t like being patted down by security staff at airports but they understand that it’s a necessary part of keeping them safe,” said Sarah Barrett, Manchester Airport’s head of customer experience, in a statement.

The officers viewing the X-ray images don’t sit in the security hall, but in a different room so there’s no contact with passengers.

“The process is entirely anonymous,” said Barrett. “We can assure the public that contrary to popular misconception, imaging technology does not allow security staff to see passengers naked.”

She added: “The image produced is a black and white, ghost-like outline of an individual’s body without any distinguishing features such as hair or facial features, making it impossible to recognise people but simple to detect concealed threats.”

The images cannot be saved to the terminal they’re shown on, and are destroyed after the passenger has been approved to carry on, the airport added.

Still, Barrett admitted that the system would be controversial.

“Imaging technology offers a potential alternative but we know that some people see it as controversial,” Barrett said.

“That’s why we’re running a trial. We’re being completely open about how imaging technology works so that passengers can tell us whether it is an acceptable alternative”.

Manchester has previously trialled facial scanning technology.