Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport has begun replacing the "profile" security passenger-screening method with a fully automatic electronic scanning system. Since 1 July the system has been used to screen all El Al passengers.

The profile system, based on questioning passengers, has caused many problems as it is time consuming, and resulted in long queues, especially in high season. It has also angered passengers who could be asked personal questions.

Under the new system, passengers enter a "sterile" area in the check-in hall, and after they put their luggage on the conveyor belts of the advanced X-ray machines, they go to passport control. All baggage and belongings are scanned by an electronic system that recognises all the articles in them, including explosive devices. The system uses off-the-shelf machines, but the software has been adapted to meet the requirements of the Israeli security service.

So far $20 million has been invested in the new security system and it will be fully implemented in Ben Gurion's new terminal, scheduled to open in 2004. Another$80 million will be invested to extend the system to other airlines' passengers.

Source: Flight International