Skip to main content

Heathrow fliers to get body scans 'as soon as practical'

An airport employee demonstrates body scan technology in Manchester, England, in October.
An airport employee demonstrates body scan technology in Manchester, England, in October.

London, England (CNN) -- London's Heathrow Airport will begin subjecting passengers to full body scans "as soon as practical," following the failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner, its operator said Sunday.

"It is our view that a combination of technology, intelligence and passenger profiling will help build a more robust defense against the unpredictable and changing nature of the terrorist threat to aviation," BAA, which run Britain's largest airport, announced in a statement.

The move follows the British government's approval of electronic bodyscanners, which Prime Minister Gordon Brown said was necessary to combat "a new type of threat." Speaking on the BBC, Brown said the devices will be put into place gradually, as will checks of carry-on luggage for traces of explosives for passengers boarding flights at British airports.

"We will do everything in our power to tighten up on security that is essential," he said.

Video: Netherlands now uses body scan

The actions come in response to the unsuccessful Christmas Day plot to bomb a Northwest Airlines jetliner heading from the Netherlands to Detroit, Michigan. A 23-year-old British-educated Nigerian, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, has been arrested after U.S. authorities said he attempted to set off explosives that had been concealed in his underwear.

Officials in the Netherlands and Nigeria said last week they would begin using the bodyscanners on airline passengers in the wake of the bombing attempt. Bodyscanners are currently in use at 19 U.S. airports, but U.S. officials said Thursday that 150 new ones are set to be placed in airports across the country.

"We've recognized there are new forms of weapons that are being used by al Qaeda, so we've got to respond accordingly," Brown said.