The Delhi airport started conducting trials of a full-body scanner, which detects objects on passengers without any pat-down search, at its Terminal 2 on Tuesday, June 28.
“Full-body scanners can detect non-metal objects, which are hard to detect with the conventional door frame metal detector,” Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) said in a statement. DIAL has installed a full-body scanner at the security check area for trials.
“The trials would be conducted on a real-time basis i.e. passengers would have to pass through it during their security check before moving to the security hold area,” the statement said.
Aviation security regulator BCAS had in April 2019 directed 84 hypersensitive and sensitive airports — including the Delhi airport — in India to install body scanners by March 2020, replacing existing door frame metal detectors, hand-held scanners and pat-down searches of passengers to detect metallic objects.
“Walk-through metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors cannot detect non-metallic weapons and explosives,” BCAS had said. “Body scanners detect both metallic and non-metallic items concealed on the body.”
The Airports Authority of India had in 2020 issued a tender to procure 198 body scanners for 63 airports following a circular to the effect by the BCAS, but the civil aviation ministry approved buying only 98.
The trials of a full-body scanner at the Delhi airport would be carried out for a period of 45 to 60 days, the statement said.
A full-body scanner is used to detect objects without making physical contact with or breaching the privacy of passengers. Officials said full-body scanners can detect non-metal objects, which are hard to detect with the conventional door frame metal detector (DFMD). Each scanner is expected to cost around USD 4 crore, including annual maintenance.
“During this period, feedback of all the stakeholders – the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the airport operator DIAL, and passengers -would be taken, examined, and evaluated,” it said.
Upon completion of trials, the findings would be shared with regulatory bodies for evaluation and the further course of action would be decided accordingly.
DIAL CEO Videh Kumar Jaipuriar said as an airport operator, DIAL had constantly been working to facilitate easy boarding for passengers, without compromising on security and safety.
“The safety and security of civil aviation is a major concern for all. The CISF has been doing a tremendous job. Now, we have deployed an advanced full-body scanner at the airport, It will not invade passengers’ privacy during security checks and will hardly have any impact on their health. After successful completion of trials, and evaluation of results, DIAL will install more such scanners as per the BCAS directive.”Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL)
By using these body scanners, officials said they can reduce the number of random pat-downs and strip searches, thereby speeding up security checks. Door-frame metal detectors will, meanwhile, remain in place for special category passengers such as those who are wheelchair-bound or those who cannot physically pass through the full-body scanners.
Body scanners have been under consideration for more than a decade in India, however, concerns related to privacy, radiation, and false alarms have kept them away from being installed at the airports.
During the first trials held in December 2016, the body scanners raised false alarms whenever a woman wearing a sari passed through it. In most of the cases, it was found that it was either the mangalsutra (a traditional piece of jewellery that married Indian women wear) or the metallic embroidery on her saree.
The advanced scanner takes care of passengers’ privacy and hardly has any impact on their health. However, conventional detectors will be used at IGIA for special category flyers like those who are wheelchair-bound or cannot physically pass through full-body scanners.