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Press release 2011.09.02 Test of full-body scan­ners: Ef­fec­tive, but not yet ready for na­tion-wide roll­out

Field testing of two full-body scanners at Hamburg Airport, which started on 27 September 2010 and was extended once, was completed on 31 July 2011 (see Federal Ministry of the Interior press releases of 27 September 2010, 30 March 2011 and 29 July 2011).

About 809,000 passengers voluntarily submitted to this method of inspection for aviation security checks. The internal assessment of the ten-month test phase has since been completed.

Based on the test results, Federal Minister of the Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich has decided that, for now, full-body scanners will not be used at airports. “The Federal Police will continue to closely monitor developments in this area, and we hope to have devices soon which both satisfy our high security standards and are capable of handling large numbers of passengers,” the Federal Minister said.

Analysis of the data from ten months of practical operations showed that full-body scanners are in principle able to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of aviation security controls. They are a good way to further enhance the security of civil aviation, significantly speed up the inspection process and make it more convenient for passengers in future.

However, it was also apparent that the technology is not yet to the stage where the available devices are suitable for everyday use. Most false alarms can be attributed to clothing features, such as folds. Even though in many cases follow-up checks can be limited to the area indicated by the scanner, there are too many false alarms overall which delay the control process.

For this reason, the current generation of body scanners is not yet suitable for general use, despite their high rate of detection.

Full-body scanners may currently be used at European airports only for testing purposes. The European Commission is currently drafting an EU regulation allowing full-body scanners as a standard inspection method for passenger security checks.

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