Magnetic induction tomography (MIT) is a tomographic technique utilising inductive coils and eddy currents to map the passive electromagnetic properties of an object. Eddy current methods are widely used for non-destructive testing (NDT) in inspection of metallic structures. Eddy current based NDT uses a single coil or a pair of coils to scan the samples. As an emerging NDT technique, MIT scans the sample with a coil array through an eddy current based tomographic approach. In this paper, a planar array MIT system (PMIT) is proposed for 3D near subsurface imaging. This is of great importance as there are large numbers of potential applications for MIT that allow limited access to the materials under testing. The system development, practical implication, capability and limitations of PMIT are discussed. The fundamental principles are demonstrated through simulations. Experimental data are used to evaluate the capability and detectability this system has as a potential 3D subsurface imaging tool.