Full-body scanners to return to Delhi’s IGI airport for third round of trial
Body scanners are expected to return to the Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport for another round of trials within a week, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officers said, adding that the “improved” scanners are likely to raise fewer false alarms than what they did during trials in 2017.
Officers of the CISF, the force responsible for airport’s security, said scanners have been further fine tuned as per Indian standards, making them more sensitive to jewellery, saree and other Indian-wear with metallic embroidery.
During the first trials held in December 2016, the body scanners raised false alarms whenever a woman wearing a sari passed through it. In most of the cases, it was found that it was either the mangalsutra (a traditional piece of jewellery that married Indian women wear) or the metallic embroidery on her saree.
“We had then asked the manufacturer to tweak specifications as per the Indian standards but some problems persisted during the second round of trials conducted between 2017 and 2018. The machine has now been further fine tuned and will be tested at Terminal 3,” said a CISF officer who did not wish to be named.
The officer also added that during the last trial runs, the scanners at times also failed to spot a pen or wallets.
Confirming the development, additional director general (airport sector) MA Ganpathi said, “We expect body scanners to be back on trial at the IGI airport within a week. Initially, the scanners will be used only by our staff and CISF personnel during the trials and then they will be opened for the flyers.”
The scanners are telephone booth-like structures in which the flyers have to stand for 3-5 seconds during which it captures an X-ray image of the person which is checked by the operator to see if any unwanted or prohibited item is being carried by the person. Developed by a Russian company in a joint venture with a Gujarat-based manufacturer, the scanner will not sound an alert immediately, but will produce an X-ray image for the screener, who, in turn, will decide if the passenger is hiding any suspicious item.
In June this year, the Centre had directed 84 airports across the country to install body scanners by March 2020, replacing existing door frame metal detectors and hand-held scanners. Of more than 100 operational airports in the country, 28 are classified as ‘hypersensitive’ including Delhi’s IGI airport, while 56 airports fall are classified as ‘sensitive’ .
As per the Centre’s directions, the hypersensitive and sensitive airports were asked to install body scanners by March 2020, while the remaining airports could install the devices by March 2021.
The advantage of this system is passengers can be screened without removing clothing, shoes and mobile phones. It can detect blades, paper cutters and all types of explosives even if it is concealed in the body.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security had asked the manufacturers to configure the machines in a way that the images don’t reveal body parts after objections were raised over X-ray images that scanners produce at airports across the world.