Published date: 8 April 2021

The Aviation Security Service (Avsec) is introducing new technology that will reduce the risk of viruses and bacteria, including the potential for COVID-19 transmission, at airport passenger screening points across the country.

Smiths Detection ultraviolet light (UVC) tray sterilisation units which eliminate up to 99.9 per cent of microorganisms, including viruses and bacteria, are being installed at airport passenger screening points with smart lanes. A smart lane has more space for passengers to prepare, automated tray movement, and better systems to resolve issues for passengers, which improves security.

Avsec Group Manager Strategic Development, Ben Smith says there will not be a lot of visible change in regard to the new technology.

"Passengers will not notice significant changes as they pass through a security screening point. The trays will simply pass through the sterilisation unit on their normal route. The UVC units are enclosed to ensure there is no UVC light exposure to either passengers or staff.

“The real innovation is what goes on behind the scenes. The trays at our screening points are touched hundreds of times a day by passengers and staff. The addition of UVC technology, which is already commonly used for disinfection in healthcare, will help to minimise the risks associated with COVID-19 and other viruses. Ultimately, this helps to make New Zealand’s aviation screening a leading system when it comes to protecting the wellbeing of passengers and our staff as the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ben Smith said.

The first UVC units have been installed at Auckland and Wellington airports and installations are planned for Christchurch and Dunedin.

The units use short-wavelength UV light (UVC) to kill viruses. This technology is used at several airports around the world, including in the UK, Singapore and Finland.