Monday, May 6, 2002
Aviation Security Service Clarifies Laptop Confusion
The Aviation Security Service (Avsec) clarified today confusion surrounding the screening of laptop computers that
airline passengers wish to carry as cabin baggage.
Avsec General Manager Mark Everitt said the confusion had arisen because the Service was required to apply different
levels and methods of searching laptop computers to meet different regulatory requirements. Australia also had different
“Passengers on flights bound for United States airports will be asked to turn on their laptop computer and demonstrate
that the item works as a laptop computer,” Mr Everitt said. “It will also be the subject of an x-ray inspection.
“The current New Zealand requirement applies to passengers bound for all other destinations – they will have their
laptop computer x-rayed as one piece. However, Aviation Security officers may use other search methods at their
All other electronic goods are inspected in a similar way.
Some confusion about screening methods has also arisen from recent reports that Australia requires passengers to remove
the laptop from its case and remove the battery. These items are x-rayed separately.
“That is not currently required in New Zealand,” Mr Everitt said.
Meanwhile, the Aviation Security Service has commissioned an independent survey to assess the risk of computer disks
being corrupted by x-ray detector equipment.
“The survey shows the risk is negligible,” Mr Everitt said. “Damage to disks from x-ray generation is a myth – x-rays
have a shorter wavelength than visible light and are unlikely to affect magnetic storage material.”
To corrupt magnetic data, magnetic fields would have to be more than 500 times stronger than that used in modern x-ray
“The Aviation Security Service is very mindful of health and safety issues,” Mr Everitt said. “X-ray scanners used at
New Zealand airports are designed so that external radiation is as low as possible.”