Passengers travelling domestically from Newcastle Airport may now be asked to skip the traditional metal detector in favour of a full body scan as part of a new trial.
But unlike those jetting abroad, domestic flyers have the opportunity to ‘opt-out’ and proceed through the metal detector as normal, rather than a body scan being compulsory if selected.
Travellers may also wish to ‘opt-in’ for the scanner, speeding up the time spent at security for those with metal plates and pins in their bodies which would normally alarm metal detection equipment and require physical pat downs from security staff.
In partnership with manufacturer Rodhe & Schwarz and Australian partner SX Technologies, Newcastle Airport’s trial serves to test a brand new design of millimetre wave body scanner: one which doesn’t require enclosed surroundings, any rotating elements or even the passenger’s arms to be raised.
Privacy has also been considered, with the scanner producing a generic stick figure graphic to indicate the location of any suspect items, rather than security staff viewing the actual scan images captured by the device.
Passengers that don't alarm the machine will instead be cleared straight through, with staff moving on to the next traveller.
Newcastle Airport’s trial runs until mid-December, after which, normal security procedures will be restored at the airport and testing of the scanner will continue at selected destinations across Asia.
“While we have no immediate plans to install the body scanners once the trial is over… it’s definitely in the mix for any future security enhancements we may look at,” a Newcastle Airport spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.
“Currently, there is no legislative requirement for body scanners in domestic airports,” the spokesperson continued. “Any decision to enhance our security outcomes in the future would be dependent on security regulation compliance.”
Full body scanners have an advantage over traditional walk-through metal detectors in that they can locate both metallic and non-metallic threats, such as wooden knives, and when utilised for international passengers, can also detect concealed liquids, aerosols and gels which may be in excees of the usual allowances.
There’s no change to domestic security requirements or procedures at any other Australian domestic airports, or for international travellers from Australia who are already chosen at random for a compulsory full body scan.