Busting body bombers

The latest airport-security scanner aimed at combating the threat of suicide ’body bombers’ has been unveiled to government officials.


airport security
The scanner would be used to address the threat of suicide ‘body bombers’ at airports

Smiths Detection demonstrated the 16HR-LD model of its B-Scan technology at the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) exhibition in Farnborough last week.

According to the Watford-based firm, the transmission X-ray scanner is the first low-dose security technology that is able to see all internal body cavities for thedetection of concealed threatening objects, such as bombs and detonators.

Colin Moynihan, Smiths B-Scan product development manager, said that, used as part of a layered approach, the scanner will be useful for addressing the increasing threat posed by terrorists carrying explosives that have been surgically implanted inside their bodies.

’There are no parts of the body internally that it cannot see,’ he said. ’That’s one of the unique things about the system and, at the moment, there isn’t any other technology in the aviation market that is able to do this.’

Currently, officials who would like to carry out a full body examination of a passenger will take them to hospital and expose them to high-dose X-ray imaging. Moynihan claims the 16HR-LD can do this just as effectively using 25 times less radiation. ’The geometry of the beam means that we can scan from the top of the head down to the toes, including the shoes,’ he said.

“The unique thing about the technology is there are no internal parts of the body that it cannot see”

Since September 2009, the company has adapted its B-Scan technology to reduce its ionising radiation dose, making it equal to that of backscatter scanners. It has also been using improved software algorithms to provide better-quality images.

Smiths claims that technology such as 16HR-LD could have increased the probability of stopping the failed attempt to blow up Northwest Airlines’ Flight 253, bound for Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport on Christmas day 2009.

Moynihan said: ’Used as part of a screening process, the technology would certainly increase the probability of detecting suicide bombers with devices surgically implanted inside them. Our testing has proved that it is very effective and we’re about to begin trials in the US and UK.’