Another round of body scanner trials at Delhi airport

Passengers travelling out of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) will be given the option to go through full-body scanner check from next month. The Bureau for Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is introducing the body scanner for a third trial run. During the last trial in December 2016, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) raised concerns over body scanners not being able to adapt to the Indian way of dressing and giving false alarms whenever a woman wearing a sari passed through it.

“We have asked the manufacturer to tweak specifications as per the Indian standard. The machine will arrive soon and be put on trial at Terminal 3. The CISF will conduct the trial and give feedback,” said a BCAS official.

During the last trial run, the machine also failed to notice a pen, a wallet and a handkerchief in 10,000 scans conducted over a month. “Body scanner is essential for airport security but we need to have the right technology. That is why we are trying different machines before finalising the best one,” CISF DG OP Singh said. The BCAS has also asked the manufacturers to configure the machines in a way that the images don’t reveal body parts after objections were raised by passengers over images that such scanners produce at airports across the world.

The scanner being tried at Delhi airport produces mannequin-like images. The security agencies had a series of meetings on the use of body scanners and it was decided that scanners with less harmful rays and objectionable image will be used for the trial runs. Last week also a meeting was held and specifications of scanners were discussed.

A few years ago, a similar trial run was conducted at the Delhi airport and a US-based company had installed the body scanner which can detect contraband and explosives hidden inside the body of a person. A survey conducted during the first phase of the trial run revealed that 90% passengers feel the new technology will be helpful, but only 40% volunteered to go through the scanner. The entire scanning process, which does not take more than a minute, also comes with privacy filters, the use of which is optional for the official manning the machine. The scanner can reveal plastic and liquid explosives, composite weapons, plastic and metal guns, drugs and other contraband, ceramic and metal knives, box cutters, precious metals and recording devices.