Airport Show
14 - 16 May 2024

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group

Computed tomography (CT) set to alleviate air passengers’ biggest headache

Along with taking off your shoes (another requirement that may soon be consigned to history), removing any liquids and laptops is perhaps the most irritating part of the current airport passenger security screening process. Happily, the introduction of computed tomography (CT) equipment is poised to give security scanners a major utility boost, one which will instantly translate into an equally significant increase in customer satisfaction.

While the utilisation of CT technology isn’t exactly new – it’s been used since the early 1990s in hold baggage security systems – several key advances in supporting techs and regulatory frameworks have allowed airport operators to bring it to the cabin baggage screening part of their security setup.

The latest CT systems allow for an extremely high level of accurate screening of carry-on baggage by taking hundreds of images as each individual piece passes through, creating a constantly updating 3D image in real-time. Crucially, this offers security personnel a much greater level of explosives detection capability without passengers having to remove any of their electronics or liquids from their baggage.

As anyone who has been through even a marginally busy airport will tell you, it’s the removal of liquids and laptops that inevitably causes the most frequent log-jams at the security checkpoint. And while we’re all aware by now of the need to take out our liquids for separate inspection, more of us are bringing an increasing range of personal tech with us on flights. Given that such items are usually expensive and fragile, most passengers don’t want to remove them from their well-cushioned travel baggage until the last moment – in fact they’d rather not unpack and repack them at all! All too often, this creates a swamping of the conveyor belt, as passengers line up multiple item trays to take their tech as well as their other personal effects.

The introduction of CT technology into the passenger screening process promises to be a game-changer in terms of expediting average security processing times and improving customer satisfaction. Critically, these advantages come with no trade-off disadvantage to overall security levels. Quite the opposite, as airport security personnel will gain a more holistic view of the contents of any piece of baggage from a single scan, without their time and focus being diverted by additional checks.


Heathrow makes the move to CT 

First in line in the UK to adopt CT solutions for its passenger security screening, London Heathrow Airport announced in June this year its programme to have the equipment installed across all of its terminals by 2022. While the installation and associated costs of the initiative have been valued in excess of £50 million, this represents an investment in customer experience management that is going to bring immediate and tangible benefits to Heathrow’s annual influx of 80 million passengers.

With the adoption of CT technology set to transform the passenger journey for the better, we can expect to see more announcements of similarly investments in other major airports in the near future, as they race to improve their own customer experience offerings. Along with sustainability, securing better customer journeys will be one of the most hotly contested differentiators facing the aviation industry over the course of the next decade.


This article was created in association with Global Airport Leaders’ Forum (GALF) taking place alongside Airport Security ME and Airport Show on 24-26 May 2021.

Day 3 (26 May) of GALF will feature the Airport Security Conference. Read more here.