In a step towards hassle-free passenger movement at terminals, major airports of the country including Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru are undertaking trials of full body scanners at the airports.

The full body scanners were expected to be installed at all major airports with an annual passenger traffic of 10 million passengers, but the timelines have been postponed due to delay in import of the equipment. However, Delhi and Bengaluru are expected to be in advanced stages of installing these machines.

The Delhi airport aims to install the full body scanner by the second half of this fiscal, while the Bengaluru airport is undertaking trials, two people aware of the development told Mint. The installation is likely in 2-3 months, they added.

“The work is in progress, in accordance with the latest guidelines issued by the Bureau Of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). We hope to have the full body scanner installed by the second half of this fiscal,” a Delhi airport spokesperson told Mint.

Full body scanners can detect and locate forbidden objects concealed under a person’s clothing. In contrast to metal detectors used extensively at passenger airports, these devices can also detect non-metallic objects such as explosives. Several airports across the US, Canada, Australia among others are using this technology to screen passengers at security check-points at terminals.

Also Read: Delhi airport to have full body scanners by May 2024, says BCAS chief

This is expected to reduce the passenger screening time by 50%. Currently security personnel takes around 30 seconds to frisk a passenger, and officials expect the screening time via a full body scanner to be nearly 15 seconds.

The Mumbai airport, the country’s second largest, is also undertaking trials of this technology.

“Procurement process is underway. Full body scanners will be deployed at Mumbai in a phased manner. In the first phase, two full body scanners shall be installed,” Mumbai airport spokesperson told Mint.

The implementation of full body scanners at Indian airports has been in the works since 2019. In April 2019, the Bureau of Civil Aviation and Security had issued a circular, directing installation of full body scanners to replace door frame metal detectors at more than 80 hyper-sensitive and sensitive airports within one year. However, in view of the covid pandemic, BCAS further extended the deadline to March 2022.

In line with this, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which operates over 130 airports in the country, had invited tenders for 198 body scanners but the tender was withdrawn after public investment board suggested implementation in a phased manner.

As a result, the authority is expected to install full body scanners at its busiest airports in the first phase and these include 13 scanners at Kolkata, 12 at Chennai, eight at Dabolim airport and five at Pune airport.

The Airports Authority of India spokesperson told Mint that it is planning to install full body scanners at these airports. However, it added that it has not commenced trials of these scanners at its airports and the plan for trials and installation is currently “under planning.”

Full body scanners are manufactured mainly by some companies in the US, Europe and the UK among others. The cost of one full body scanner varies around ā‚¹4-5 crore, including annual maintenance.

As per the latest data from AAI, the Delhi airport was the busiest airport in the country at 73.7 million passengers handled in FY24.Ā 

Also Read: Delhi airport will now handle 100 mn passengers with expanded Terminal 1

The Mumbai airport was the second busiest with 52.8 million passengers, followed by Bengaluru airport with 37.5 million passengers. The traffic at government-run Chennai airport stood at 21.2 million and that at Kolkata airport was recorded at 19.8 million passengers for FY24.

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Published: 30 Apr 2024, 12:22 PM IST