On 11 March 2008 Regulation on common rules in the field of civil aviation security and repealing Regulation was adopted by the European Parliament and of the Council. The aim of this Regulation is to protect persons and goods within the European Union by preventing acts of unlawful interference with civil aircraft (e.g. hijack, sabotage of aircraft). One of the means for ensuring this is to screen persons before they enter security restricted areas at airports and board an aircraft.Why are body scanners under consideration for possible use in the field of aviation security?
A weakness in aviation security today is the detection of non-metallic items. All passengers normally pass through walk-through metal detectors (WTMD) which should ensure that guns and knives (and some other prohibited items) are detected. If the WTMD alarms, this alarm is often resolved with a hand-held metal detector (HHMD). The use of metal detectors is complemented by selecting passengers for a hand search.
The combination of metal detectors and hand searches is currently the optimal means of detecting concealed prohibited items. However, the quality of hand searches is very variable at Community airports, as has been seen by the Commission as part of its compliance monitoring programme of airport inspections (in accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 2320/2002). Furthermore, passengers often find hand searches intrusive and upsetting to their dignity. Finally, the hand searching of passengers is time-consuming and labour-intensive, making it expensive to perform.
In order to address the issues raised by the European Parliament in its Resolution, questions as set out below have been developed for consultation of interested parties, including the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), the Article 29 Working Party and the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).
Body Scanners Task Force
In addition to the questionnaire, the Commission is organising a 'public-private dialogue' that will take the form of a Body Scanners Task Force. The first meeting of the Body Scanners Task Force will take place on Friday 12 December 2008 in Brussels. The meeting will take place in English only.
Since body scanners can detect any item concealed on a person’s body or in or under his clothes, they could be used as an alternative to the existing means of screening passengers.