Why do passengers undergo safety inspection by hand?

Published
3.11.2015 - 12:11
Do you know why passengers are inspected by hand at security control? Do you know what an explosives trace detector is? Who decides how passengers and luggage are inspected at Finnish airports?

The security control of air travel passengers is regulated by shared rules in EU countries with the aim of ensuring the safety and flow of travelling. The EU provides national authorities and aviation law with minimum requirements that must be followed without exception.

In Finland, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi is in charge of security control regulations.

Inspecting passengers by hand

EU Safety Regulation 300/2008 and its applicable regulation 185/2010 cover safety inspections of passengers by hand. According to the regulations, a passenger and hand luggage must be inspected in case of hazardous substances or objects, and forbidden items must be confiscated.

If the metal detector gate beeps, the security officer determines the reason by performing a hand search where the passenger’s clothes and body are checked. The insides of the waistlines of trousers and skirts must also be inspected by hand.

A hand-held metal detector can be used during an inspection by hand. The detector will alert for any substances and objects containing metal.

Using a hand-held metal detector as a sole security control method is forbidden in EU regulations. It can only be used as a supplementary method and does not exclude the requirement of an inspection by hand, as forbidden objects may be non-metal.

The best manner of avoiding an inspection by hand is to remove all possible metal objects from your person and set them on the X-ray conveyor belt for inspection. Sequins, buttons, or support wires of undergarments, for instance, may also cause an alarm.

Random inspections decreed by legislation

According to EU regulations, some passengers must be randomly selected for inspection.

At Helsinki Airport and Oulu Airport, the inspection based on random sampling has been performed with explosives trace detectors in addition to inspections by hand since September 2015. At other Finnish airports, the inspections based on random sampling are carried out by hand.

Technology expedites security control

The developing technology and new devices expedite and facilitate security control and reduce the numbers of inspections by hand.

Any traces of explosives can be detected from passengers and their luggage with the help of the explosive trace detector used at Helsinki and Oulu Airports. Similar devices are used in all of the largest airports in Europe.

According to the regulation on liquids concerning EU security controls, which entered into force in 2014, some of the liquids carried in hand luggage, such as baby foods and drinks, liquid medicine, special diet products, and the tax free shopping of transfer passengers arriving from outside EU, must be analysed.
Helsinki Airport and Oulu Airport use equipment which can analyse more than one container of liquids at the same time. Test strips are used at airports with less traffic, in addition to which the passenger can be questioned.

Even advanced technology is not entirely believed to replace inspecting passengers by hand. Finding a forbidden substance or object is one of the main points of security control and air travel safety and, in certain cases, inspection by hand is the most efficient method.

Pack your luggage correctly

Before arriving at the airport, we recommend you find out what items and substances you can bring in your hand luggage, what must be packed in the cargo hold, and what should not be brought onboard a flight at all.

See our website for instructions on how to pack your luggage correctly at home.

Carriers may have stricter limitations than Trafi on packing hand luggage. Therefore, we recommend that passengers check their tickets or the airline for information on whether their items or substances are allowed on the airplanes of the carrier in question.

How to prepare for security control