Security restrictions on liquids and laptops in airport hand luggage could be lifted in the UK, due to the rollout of new high-tech 3D scanners.
For the past 16 years, air passengers have had to remove all liquids from hand luggage, in containers of no more than 100 ml, and electrical devices from their bags and transfer them to a separate bin or small plastic bag so that flight attendants security can inspect them.
The government is now considering rolling out more advanced scanners, similar to the CT scanners used in hospitals, to reduce security queues at airports.
The Times newspaper reported that ministers considered a 2017 lawsuit in Heathrow Airportt, where 3D scanners already in use in the United States allowed staff to zoom in on the contents of a bag and rotate images for inspection.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “We are currently reviewing the position on the future screening of liquids and electronic devices carried by passengers at UK airport security checkpoints.
“This includes whether liquids and electronic devices can be left in cabin baggage when checked. A number of UK airports are currently testing new technology which has the potential to enable this.”
Current regulations, put in place in 2006, have ended tighter restrictions on in-cabin liquids. They were first imposed after British police foiled an Islamist transatlantic terror plot, which officers say aimed to blow up up to 10 planes departing London Heathrow, using explosives hidden in bottles drinks.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told The Times: “We are rolling them out slowly.
“We have just started the expansion of the Terminal 3 security area which will have more CT scanners and will have a deadline of mid-2024 from [Department for Transport]. Until then, the normal passenger experience will be for liquids to remain in the bags.”
Sky News understands that the Department for Transport has yet to confirm when the use of 3D scanners will begin and that new rules may come into effect.
In 2019, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans for all major UK airports to introduce new 3D baggage screening equipment to improve security.
At the time, government officials said that once in place, the 100ml liquid limit may no longer apply. The original December 2022 deadline was affected by the COVID pandemic as passenger numbers were reduced due to travel restrictions.
The Department for Transport added: “Passengers at UK airports must not carry containers of liquid larger than 100ml through security, and liquids and electronic devices must be removed from carry-on baggage at security checkpoints. airport security.