Wednesday. 11.12.2019
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Helsinki airport tests new technology to allow liquids in hand luggage

The aim is to make security checks smoother and twice as fast as now. Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands already uses this new technology.
Image: Finavia.
Image: Finavia.
Helsinki airport tests new technology to allow liquids in hand luggage

Finavia is experimenting with a new generation of technology to allow liquids and consumer electronics to be transported inside hand luggage through security control.

The aim, as explained by the Finnish airport operator in a press release, is to put an end to the "hassle of packaging transparent plastic bags and removing laptops from bags and suitcases". And, at the same time, to make the whole process twice as fast as now.

The piloting will be carried out within the expansion plans of Terminal 2 of Helsinki Airport, projected for 2021. If this new technology proves to be efficient, it will bring major changes to the security check process.

“We are designing a terminal for the future. We want to build an equipment base that meets future requirements and makes security screening much smoother. The key to this, among other things, is scanning based on computed tomography and intelligent algorithms, which allows all liquids to be carried in hand luggage and eliminates the need for big pieces of electronic equipment to be taken out of bags,” says Joni Pekkanen, Service Manager, Security Services, Finavia.

Non-Schengen security check

Finavia said new security screening technology will be piloted as early as 2020. It will be placed in the non-Schengen security check, so departing passengers will not yet benefit from it. The purpose is to gain experience on the functionality of the technology before major equipment purchases are made. For now, the screening process will be the same as before: passengers will need to pack liquids according to regulations and take larger electronic devices out of their bags.

The screening equipment upgrade is gradually bringing about changes in air passengers’ routines. In the near future, when the scanning device’s algorithm will be able to analyse liquids in hand luggage, there will probably be no more need for liquids to be packed in separate transparent plastic bags. At the same time, Finavia hopes to cut the amount of plastic waste generated by the current process.

Save millions of plastic bags

“Reducing the amount of waste is important to us and it’s one of the reasons for applying new technology. Today, we use millions of plastic bags a year due to security screening. We inspect about eight million passengers a year at Helsinki Airport, and most of them carry a sealed one-litre bag for liquids,” continues Pekkanen.

Intelligent security screening technology is currently gaining ground, particularly at European airports. Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, for example, already makes use of this new type of technology.

“Our goal is to build a process that works as smoothly as possible from the passenger’s point of view. New X-ray technology combined with a functional line-up creates speed for screening. In the next few years, security screening may be up to twice as fast, but at the same time security and sustainability will also improve.”

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