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New Weapons Busting Scanner

European aerospace giant EADS has begun production of a system intended to thwart terrorists carrying chemical or explosive weapons, a technology that also promises to be a boon to air travelers long grown frustrated with lines, delays, pat-downs and moving shoeless through airports. And then there are the more invasive searches that can really put a damper on that trip to Disney World...

EADS's Laser Ion Mobility Spectrometer can detect dangerous chemicals or explosives on individuals in seconds, the company's chief technology officer, Jean Botti, said Saturday in a briefing run-up to the 2009 Paris Air Show. The system was first presented at the Paris Air Show two years ago. Botti said the spectrometer has moved out of prototype phase and into the company's "industrial base."

That means the company has transferred responsibility for the system from the lab to its Defense and Security Division for "serious production," said EADS spokesman Gregor V. Kursell.

But that doesn't mean manufacture for immediate sales, said Kursell, who speculates that LIMS will be in the marketplace -- and maybe at an airport near you -- in about a year.

Botti said during his presentation that the scan is not harmful to people and can detect  the dangerous agents in only 10 to 15 seconds.

"Compare the time it takes now" to move lines of people through airport lines, he said. "And if you 'ring' (set off an alarm) it can take forever."

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