The West

Perth Airport officials say the operation of new full body scanners will not mean longer wait times for travellers.

The first of three scanners began operating at Perth International Airport yesterday, with airport staff the first to be subject to random scans.

“The entire process for body scanning takes about four seconds – two seconds to scan and two second to see the analysis,” Perth Airport spokeswoman Fiona Lander said.

“So no, it will not delay, and it will not cause queues at all.”

Using low frequency radio waves, the scanners can detect solid objects which may be concealed under the clothing of individual passengers – including weapons, explosive components and other prohibited items.

Passengers will be randomly selected for scanning, with anyone who refuses denied access to their flight.

Once a scan is completed, security staff are presented with a generic “stick figure” image, with any detected objects highlighted in yellow.

“If the scanner picks something up, you would be taken to a separate room, where a further discussion takes place with our protection officers to determine what that might be,” Ms Lander said.

“The radio frequency can also pick up items within the body – anything that proposes a security risk in aviation.”

Previous models of the scanner have raised the concerns of privacy advocates, who were concerned at the prospect of real-time body outlines being viewable by airport security staff.

The scanners were also at the centre of controversy in the United States in 2010, where airport staff were found to have stored images of passengers and uploaded them to the internet.

But the newer models being used in Australia are unable to store or transmit scan results.

Travellers were accepting of the scans when spoken to yesterday.

“I’m not too phased, particularly if it keeps you safer,” one Phuket-bound passenger said.

The West Australian

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