Life Travel Airport trials 3D carry-on luggage scans to alleviate travel pain
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Airport trials 3D carry-on luggage scans to alleviate travel pain

All flights at Melbourne airport were suspended for about an hour on Monday morning. Photo: Getty
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Melbourne Airport is trialling 3D security technology that is set to alleviate long queues and remove one of the biggest pain points for passengers – they will no longer have to separate their laptops and liquids from their carry-on luggage.

The New Daily was invited to have an exclusive look at the smart lane technology developed by Smiths Detection. It uses CT scanning to produce a 3D image of what’s inside your luggage.

The technology, which has been trialled at Melbourne Airport’s domestic terminal by about 42,000 people for the past month, will be introduced at other airports nationally – including regional terminals – within two years if the trial is successful.

Jordan Thrupp, managing director at Smiths Detection, said the advanced CT technology used “smarter algorithms” and was the same type of technology used to conduct scans of the human body. 

“The CT scan utilises an X-ray that does a 360-degree turn of the bag to create a 3D image, which is then sent to analyst for analysis and decision-making,” Mr Thrupp said.

“The 3D image view of the bag gives the ability to take a much larger snapshot of the items in that bag compared to the traditional system.”

A snapshot of Smiths Detection 3D screening technology. Photo: Melbourne Airport

Simon Gandy, chief of aviation at Melbourne Airport, said the pilot program was able to provide valuable insights to better understand how future passengers could pass through security screening without having to divest their items.

“With the old system the wait can be up to five minutes if you have a complicated bag – so you’re going from minutes to literally seconds,” Mr Gandy said.

“The quality of X-ray imagery and software functionality is also superior to what we have seen previously and will certainly shape the way the aviation industry works in the future. We look forward to sharing our findings with airports globally.”

Annoyance alleviated

The latest International Air Transport Association survey has revealed that the two biggest pain points for travellers are airport security and the boarding processes.

Smiths Detection’s new smart lane conveyor system. Photo: Melbourne Airport

About 57 per cent of passengers thought it was intrusive to remove personal items from bags, while 48 per cent disliked being asked to remove laptops and large electronic devices from carry-on luggage.

Airline Intelligence & Research managing director and former Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber said divesting items through the security check at airports was one of the greatest bugbears for passengers. 

“This is a massive step forward for aviation in Australia,” Dr Webber told The New Daily.

“It will be a fairly small time saving per person. But when you aggregate that over the amount of people it will represent an enormous benefit.”

Dr Peter Bruce, airline operations expert at Swinburne University, said security screening at airports played one of the most important roles in aviation safety. 

“You can never undercut security and safety at an airport and the fact that technology is becoming more sophisticated in this area means it’s a great boom for passengers and business travellers,” Dr Bruce said.

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