TSA Rolling Out New X-ray Technology at 15 Airports

New CT scanner. Source: Transportation Security Administration, US Department of Homeland Security
New CT scanner. Source: Transportation Security Administration, US Department of Homeland Security

On July 30, 2018, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced its  plan to test computed tomography (CT) scanners, a state-of-the-art 3-D technology at select US airport checkpoints.

This new technology is intended by TSA to enhance critical explosives and other threat items detection capabilities at airport checkpoints. The system applies sophisticated algorithms for the detection of explosives and creates a 3-D image that can be viewed and rotated on three axes for thorough visual image analysis by a TSA officer.

“TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience. Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By leveraging strong partnerships with industry, we are able to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.”

According to TSA, checkpoint CT technology should result in fewer bag checks. In the future, passengers may also be able to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.

TSA plans to have up to 40 units in place at airports around the nation by the end of the year, along with 16 units at federal testing facilities. More than 145 will be in airports by the end of fiscal year 2019.

The initial 15 units are being deployed to the following airports, with other airports receiving units in the coming months:

  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Houston Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)

TSA began testing CT in 2017 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport. A third unit was deployed in late July 2018 to John F. Kennedy International Airport (with American Airlines).

For information about CT, visit TSA’s Emerging Technologies page.

In a TSA release on April 12, 2018, items in the 2019 federal budget related to CT were addressed thus:

“…we will drive as hard and fast as we can to rapidly deploy Computed Tomography (CT) systems to high-risk domestic airports in 2019. Our confidence in the security impact of these solutions has led us to request $71.5 million to purchase and deploy CT systems in FY 2019.  Research and development efforts have shown that CT is the most consequential technology available today for airport checkpoints, as it automates much of the threat detection function.  We have devoted significant resources into testing this technology during this current fiscal year, and pending results, we anticipate field testing will be conducted at up to eight airports in the coming months.

“The FY 2019 budget request includes $71.5 million for CT technology, which will allow us to begin purchasing and deploying CT technology to airport checkpoints.  This will allow for the purchase of at least 145 CT units and an additional $2.4 million for 19 new full-time Transportation Security Specialists-Explosives to help respond to the increased alarm rates that we expect as we roll out the new technology.  With the funding requested in the FY 2019 President’s Budget, we also plan to procure and deploy 294 credential authentication technology (CAT) units at a number of airports.  CT and CAT are cornerstone technologies to transform security at the checkpoint.”

For more information about TSA, please visit tsa.gov.


Source: Transportation Security Administration, US Department of Homeland Security

Ed. Notes:

Portions of this release were augmented from other TSA documents; emphasis added by editor.

This technology is for scanning baggage by TSA, though not explicitly stated, see photo for scanner in use. Similar scanners are used in hospitals with corresponding limits on usage and warnings for pregnant women.

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