New Delhi, May 14: Rattled by the possibility of a “human bomb” sneaking into a plane to hijack or blow it up, security agencies are planning to buy body scanners that will detect suspicious objects before a passenger boards a flight.
An intelligence committee recently considered a possible scenario in which terrorists with hidden plastic explosives take over aircraft or blow up installations.
When these scanners are installed, air passengers and people entering high-security installations will have to stand in a pod-like machine that uses invisible waves to see through clothing.
The scanners will not only detect plastic explosives and hand grenades but penetrate much deeper to reveal metal zips and pins in clothing and even metal hip joints and pacemakers.
These waves are not like X-rays and will be less harmful. Several US airports are using the system while it is on trial in Schiphol airport in Amsterdam and Jakarta airport in Indonesia.
Developed originally for aircraft and helicopters to see through fog, the technology has now been adapted for civilian security purposes.
Body scanners could be good news for those who dislike being frisked at airports. However, this system too has drawn flak from passengers who complain that it amounts to invasion of privacy with security officials being able to see through their clothing.
Sources said if the checking is carried out by the security personnel of the same sex at a separate scan station, the problem will be solved.
“The proposal of body scanners will have to go through several deliberations before it is cleared. Even Britain is planning to put it in place, but the system will take about a year to be implemented in airports and metro stations there,” an official said.
Sources said efforts are on to beef up other security systems by streamlining airport access through smart cards, introducing passenger profiling and strengthening of cockpit doors of state-run airlines’ planes.
Security agencies have already started monitoring airports as well as Parliament, including its grounds, with closed-circuit televisions.
Sources said they have also asked airlines to install state-of-the-art systems inside planes for communication with ground staff in the event of a hijack.