Super Scanners at British Airports

High-powered machines that produce detailed double X-ray images mean passengers no longer have to unpack laptops. Waits were cut to five minutes in June

High tech security scanners that can slash queues are now in place at the UK's seven major airports.

Explosives, guns, liquids and knives are easier for security staff to spot using about 200 dual-imaging cabin luggage scanners.

Bags are scanned from four angles to produce detailed double X-ray images.

Airport operator BAA confirmed it had now installed the advanced threat identification X-ray scanners at its seven airports, including Gatwick, Heathrow, and Stansted.

The scanners, produced by the Smiths Group, allow laptops to be carried in bags and cut queuing times for passengers, with travellers delayed for less than five minutes at Heathrow security in June in 95 per cent of cases.

Security has been overhauled at BAA's airports since 2006, with metal archway detectors replaced, new liquid testing equipment introduced and 3,000 extra security officers.

A spokeswoman for BAA said: "An enhancement of security areas forms part of BAA's £6.2bn capital investment programme over the next five years.

"This has already resulted in a complete refurbishment of the passenger security areas at Stansted and transfer passenger search areas in Terminal's 1, 3 and 4 at Heathrow.

"We have also increased the number of security lanes across our airports by over 50 per cent, removing retail outlets where necessary."

In its Corporate Responsibility Report 2007 BAA states that "in 2008 we aim to transform security check points at our seven UK airports".

BAA plans to make greater use of biometric technology, already deployed at Terminals 1 and 5, to fast track passengers through immigration.

The airport operator is investing about £5m in energy efficiency over four years to realise cost savings of £8.6m.

It will look to use green technology in lighting efficiency and water consumption in new buildings, building on measures such as using rain and grey water recycling at Terminal 5.

It expects the building that will replace Terminal 2 will produce 40 per cent less CO2 emissions and the biomass boiler at the new terminal at Stansted will produce just 1,824 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.