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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Airport X-rays to find explosives
new X-ray machine at Heathrow terminal five
The system has been installed in Heathrow's new Terminal Five
A new X-ray machine that automatically detects explosives and liquids in passengers' hand luggage will be introduced at seven UK airports.

The Advanced Threat Identification X-ray (ATIX) system takes multiple views of a bag in the time current X-ray machines take a single view.

It will replace existing X-ray machines at all BAA's UK airports, including Gatwick and Glasgow, from March 2008.

It will also be used in Heathrow's new Terminal Five, which opens on 27 March.

It is the first time new X-ray technology has been used at UK airport checkpoints for a decade.

It will be used alongside a new automatic tray return system, which speeds the movement of non-threatening bags and diverts suspicious bags down a separate channel for further investigation.

Security officers

Developer Smiths Detection said the ATIX system would combat terrorism and shorten journey times through airports for passengers.

However, it would not explain how the system automatically detected explosives and liquids, stating it was a trade secret.

Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport will soon have over 60% more security officers than it had in summer 2006, a total of around 4,000 officers, a BAA spokesman said.

Around 660 of these will be based at the new Terminal Five.

Construction workers handed control of the terminal to BAA and British Airways (BA) last week, and reporters were invited to visit the terminal on Thursday.

More than 1,000 people set up camp at Heathrow Airport for eight days last month, to protest against UK airport expansion.

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