Paris airport to try scanners on US-bound flights

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PARIS (AP) — Body scanners will be used on an experimental basis at France’s busiest airport later this month for flights headed to the United States, the deputy director of transportation at the General Direction for Civil Aviation said Friday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had ordered this week a study of the possible use of scanners following the failed effort, allegedly by a Nigerian man, to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas.

The scanners will be put in place at Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, before the end of the month, Jacques Le Guillou told The Associated Press.

Privacy concerns derailed discussions in 2008 on the deployment of scanners. France has a watch list of seven “at risk” countries — Afghanistan, Algeria, Mali, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen and Syria. Since Jan. 1, airlines that fly to those places have been required to provide details about passengers or face the prospect of fines of up to €50,000 ($72,000).

To start with, one scanner will be set up at Charles de Gaulle airport, but ideally six or seven will be deployed eventually, Le Guillou said. How fast they can be put in use depends on how quickly France can get hold of them. Demand for the scanners has increased as more countries try to acquire them.

A passenger who does not want to undergo a body scan can request a manual check. “Each person can choose,” Guillou said.

In the long run, the French civil aviation authorities intend to put body scanners in all French airports, Le Guillou said.

Each scanner costs between €100,000 and €150,000. Extra costs will include salaries for personnel who operate the scanners.