New controversial full-body scanners could soon be in use at Dublin Airport.
But air passengers will only be invited to use them if a trial of the security equipment is successful -- and even then they will not be compulsory.
Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) confirmed yesterday that a scanner will be delivered to the airport by the end of September and staff will be given the option of using the walk-through device on a trial period before potentially using the technology for passengers.
A DAA spokesman said airline staff and other workers will be invited to use the scanner, but it will not be compulsory.
He confirmed that if the trial is a success, the full-body scanners would also be made available to passengers, as an alternative to the normal security scanners already in use.
The spokesman said the DAA will only introduce the body scanners "if it will improve the passenger experience".
And he stressed that the devices do not intrude on health or privacy. The images produced are androgynous "mannequin"-type figures and "will not outline any specific details of anybody's body features".
Concerns have also been expressed about potential health dangers.
A hospital consultant at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in Britain was barred from boarding his flight at Manchester Airport earlier this summer after he refused to use the scanner, claiming he could be exposed to X-rays.
But the DAA said the body scanner they are testing uses millimetre wave technology and not X-ray, and its signal has only a fraction of the strength of that of a mobile phone.
The image will be seen only by the security worker and the person being scanned and will be destroyed afterwards. However, it will highlight any area which might be in need of a physical search.
The European Parliament has agreed body scanners should be allowed at EU airports if the health, dignity and privacy of passengers are protected.
The scanner will initially be based in Terminal 1. It is expected that more will be introduced in Dublin Airport and also in other airports.
The Department of Transport confirmed that it was aware of plans by DAA to introduce body scanners for staff screening but had not yet received a formal application for approval to begin the trial.
A spokesman said that the use of such scanners was not yet approved under EU aviation security rules, but a change in those rules to allow for their introduction, subject to certain conditions, is expected by the end of the year.