PASSENGERS will trial-run Edinburgh Airport's new security lounge for the first time this month, as a £25 million terminal extension nears completion.
Selected groups will be diverted from the security hall in the next few weeks to allow staff to test the new hand luggage and passenger screening systems.
It means the facility, on the second floor of the 20,000 square feet extension, will be partially up and running in time for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, in Perthshire.
The new space is double the size of the existing security hall, but has slashed the number of security lanes from 12 to six. However, the designers believe using facial recognition technology, which tracks how long a person takes to clear security from the moment they enter the building, will help speed up the process.
They can also estimate more accurately how many passengers are expected in the airport at any one time and link that to the number of staff required in the security hall, which staff believe will put an end to long waits and congestion even at peak times.
Gordon Dewar, chief executive at Edinburgh Airport, said: "We're at a very exciting point in the build now where we've essentially completed construction of the extension and are making it wind and water tight. The internal fit-out of our new security hall is now well under way with state-of-the-art security equipment being installed to improve the passenger journey through the airport.
"From early August, for about seven weeks, we'll be starting a phased transition where we'll start to take the first passengers through our new security hall. This is a hugely important milestone and it will be necessary to have both security halls operating at once to keep things moving."
The design eliminates around half the security staff from the floor. Only staff in charge of the body scanners and directing passengers will remain in the security hall, while the X-ray staff checking hand luggage as bags pass through the machines will be in a separate room where they can monitor bags remotely. The idea is to remove noise and distraction which can slow them down.
The design, drawn up in conjunction with two members of the security team seconded to the project, has virtually eliminated pillars and incorporated a number of large windows to make the area feel bright and open in contrast to a claustrophobic feel.
The extension will offer a passengers a second entrance and exit for the airport to ease the flow of people in and out of the building, which currently relies on one entrance. Passengers arriving by tram will disembark immediately outside the extension.
The quick transit of passengers has become particularly important as Edinburgh has become the busiest airport in Scotland over the past decade, carrying a record 9.8 million passengers last year.
Mr Dewar said: "Only after we're satisfied everything is working well and passengers are happy will we officially close the old security hall and have all passengers use the new terminal. Our passengers are our priority and we're working hard to ensure they're kept up-to-date with the development of the new extension. The progress is clear to see and we're looking forward to officially opening the extension later this year."
The extension, which includes space for meeting rooms, offices and shops, is on track for completion in late October, after which work to refurbish the old terminal will begin. The existing security hall is due to be converted into retail space.
The revamp of the present terminal is due for completion next spring.