London’s Heathrow Airport is investing nearly $63.5 million in new 3-D security equipment that will eliminate the need for passengers to remove liquids and laptops from their carry-on bags and laptop backpacks when passing through security, the airport recently announced.
The new computed tomography (CT) equipment is expected to be rolled out throughout the airport over the next few years and fully installed across Heathrow’s terminals by 2022. With its 3-D capabilities, the CT scanners allow security agents to rotate images of each bag 360 degrees, making it easier to spot explosive devices and other prohibited items.
Once in place, the technology should cut security screening wait times at Heathrow and will also reduce the amount of plastic used at the airport, with passengers no longer being required to put their liquids in plastic bags ahead of screening. (Wondering if your plastic bag–free carry-on will be allowed onboard? Check our breakdown of size restrictions for major airlines.)
Heathrow is the first airport in the United Kingdom to test the new screening technology (Amsterdam’s Schiphol is already using the new technology as well), and other airports in the country are looking to begin their own trials in the coming months.
The investment in the new technology is the airport’s latest attempt to improve the passenger experience at the bustling airport. For instance, Heathrow is also preparing for an expansion project that would increase the airport’s passenger capacity.
The move follows a similar announcement made by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) last year. TSA announced in July 2018 that it planned on installing new CT scanners in airports across the United States by the end of 2018.
CT technology is now in place at 17 airports throughout the country, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Logan International Airport in Boston, Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and Washington-Dulles International Airport. The full list of airports that have CT technology as well as updates about TSA’s implementation of the technology can be found on a dedicated TSA computed tomography webpage.
This past March, TSA signed a $96.8 million contract for 300 additional CT scanners to be installed over the next five years.
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