X-ray transfer offers biosecurity boost

In July Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy welcomed the beginning of trials for the use of x-ray images to screen airline baggage before it arrives in New Zealand.

He said the trials are a world-first and involve the transfer of aviation security x-ray images from Melbourne Airport to Auckland for passengers on Air New Zealand flights, while the passenger is on the flight.

“This technology will allow biosecurity staff to assess the x-ray images before the plane touches down. Any bag containing biosecurity risk items will then be matched with the passenger, who will face further scrutiny by officials upon landing,” Minister Guy said.

If the trials are successful, MPI would look to extend the system to other major Australian airports.

In the longer term, x-ray image transfer could be applied to routes with higher biosecurity risk to New Zealand, such as those from South East Asia, parts of Europe and the Pacific.

“MPI currently will continue to use surveys, declaration forms, detector dogs, x-ray screening, and random physical searches to monitor biosecurity risk among air passengers.

“The system could provide another powerful tool for MPI to protect New Zealand from dangerous pests and disease,” Mr Guy said