Following the failed bomb attack on a US flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25 2009, the use of scanning technology in airport security - already an urgent issue internationally - has assumed even greater importance. Italy has taken steps to enhance security by approving the trial use of full-body scanners in airports.

The trial has been approved by the Interministerial Committee for the Safety of Aviation Transport, which is overseen by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority. On March 4 2010 the first trial of full-body scanners took place at Fiumicino Airport in Rome, with similar equipment being installed at Milan's Malpensa airport a few days later.

Two kinds of body scanner will be tested: backscatter scanners (which use low-intensity X-rays) and millimetre wave scanners (which use non-ionizing radio frequency energy). ENAC has stated that neither technology involves harmful radiation. The Select Committee for the Evaluation of Body Scanners has already conducted a series of tests on the types of scanner on the market, taking account of concerns about security, privacy, passenger health and compatibility with other airport operations.

After both types of scanner have been tested, the interministerial committee will decide which type of equipment to purchase. ENAC has earmarked over €2 million to purchase 15 full-body scanners for three airports that have regular scheduled flights to the United States. In addition to the US routes, the scanners will be used for other sensitive flights to United Kingdom and Israel.

ENAC has stressed that airport personnel must be trained to cancel body scan images immediately after they are created and viewed; security staff and the police may also need more guidance on liaison in the event of a suspicious object being detected. The head of ENAC has emphasized that scanners should not be operated by personnel who also carry out security searches at passport control points.

Italy is one of the first European countries to use the new scanners, which are expected to be fully operational by the end of Spring 2010.

For further information on this topic please contact Laura Pierallini or Gianluigi Ascenzi at Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati by telephone (+39 06 88 41 713), fax (+39 06 88 40 249) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]).