Passengers may no longer need to take their shoes off going through airport security

Harry Yorke
airport security - Credit: Cultura RM / Alamy Stock Photo

Taking your shoes off while going through airport security could be a thing of the past as the Government announces plans for new state of the art scanners.

Eight screening projects are to be funded by the Department for Transport over the next year, with ministers confident that improvements in the technology will lead to shortened waiting times.

The department believes that functioning prototypes, which will be ready in 2019, could be trialled in airports in the near future.

Announcing the plans, Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: "This latest £1.8 million of funding invests in innovative projects will ensure we are continuing to capitalise on pioneering research.

"The aim is to have a safer and smoother travel experience for air passengers.

"The safety of people travelling on all modes of transport is our top priority and the Future Aviation Security Solutions programme is just one example of the huge importance we place on the security of passengers."

Her comments were echoed by Security Minister Ben Wallace, who said: "We are determined to harness the power of innovation and this ambitious programme will help us continue to use the best technologies as part of our aviation security."

The funding is part of a joint five-year programme by the DfT and Home Office.

Several the companies receiving funding are in the process of designing shoe scanners which do not require passengers to remove their footwear.

They include London-based Scanna Msc, which is designing a step-on shoe scanner which would check for shoe bombs.

A similar technology is being developed by Security Screening Technologies in Derbyshire, which will create  high-contrast images to be analysed by computers taught to recognise explosives and other threats.

Any shoes flagged for concerns would then undergo a secondary check.

Meanwhile, Welsh firm Sequestim has created an alternative walk-through screening system featuring a highly-sensitive camera to measure the natural radiation from passengers.

This, the DfT said, would reduce the risk of false alarms and enable passengers to keep their coats on.