Airport Metal Detectors History

airport-metal-detectorsMetal detectors are used extensively in airports as a security measure. There are two kinds of metal detectors used at airports. The most common is the walk-through metal detector. The second are hand-held security scanners. These are used as an additional security measure when the walk-through metal detector sounds the alarm on an individual.

These began being implemented at airports in 1972, due to increased incidents of hijacking airplanes. These detectors were called magnetometers, and were originally used to find metal pieces in logs before they went under the saw. The old airport detectors were often four or five feet long; tunnel-like. There was at first some anxiety that the detectors let off harmful radiation, but after some research, it was found that they put off about as much radiation as a luminous dial on a watch.

The next concern was that the airport detectors were a violation of the fourth amendment, which states that no illegal searches and seizures can be conducted. The courts determined that it was a violation, but that the FAA could continue to use security detectors in airports on two conditions. First, that the searches be conducted universally so that there was no discrimination, and secondly, that the search be limited to weapons and explosives.

A Finnish company called Outokumpu adapted a mining detector still situated in a large cylindrical pipe into a commercial walk-through detector. Metor Detectors was a spin-off of this company, and developed systems in the rectangular shape now seen in airports today. In 1995 an airport security detector was developed that could pinpoint the height of the metal detected, allowing security personnel to more quickly find the object.

Security was increased in U.S. Airports shortly after the 9-11 attacks. After that people were no longer allowed to meet incoming flights at the gate, and it was required that all security measures were handled by Federal employees. By this time all luggage was being sent through x-ray scanners, and all passengers were required to walk through metal detectors. These airport metal detectors were now more sensitive and able to pick up small pieces of metal.

Airport detectors are vital in protecting passengers, airplanes, and airline personnel because they detect weapons concealed on an individuals body. The two kinds used at airports are hand-wands, and walk-through metal detectors. What began as an instrument to find spikes left in logs was developed as a security measure for airports and other public buildings. Today security systems are used around the world in airports, government office buildings, and sports centers, as well as other high-security buildings. They are especially important in airports because of the high concentration of people, which makes airports a prime target for terrorists.

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