The TSA has awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a Maryland firm to update the scanners used to screen carry-on bags at airports across the U.S. According to the agency, the new Computed Tomography (CT) systems will enhance the ability of screeners to identify potential threats, but the biggest benefit may be the promise of fewer security line hassles for passengers.
The TSA will begin installing more than 300 next-generation Computed Tomography (CT) systems at U.S. airports over the next five years. The Homeland Security agency announced a contract worth $96.8 million with Maryland-based Smiths Detection to put the new carry-on bag screening technology in nearly every major airport in the country.
“Smiths Detection, Inc, offered the best value for TSA in this procurement and has been chosen to support the most consequential technology deployment to checkpoints in the recent history of the agency,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a March 28th statement announcing the historic upgrade plans. “These state-of-the-art 3-D scanners will enable our screening officers to detect explosives and other threats to commercial aviation with unprecedented precision.”
In addition to the promised security enhancements, Pekoske says the new technology might also have an unheralded benefit for passengers. The agency says the improvements could someday soon save air travelers the hassle of removing carry-on sized liquids and large electronic devices from their bags at the conveyer belt.
“CT technology provides enhanced detection of threat items,” the agency explained in a release highlighting the cutting edge tech. “Like existing CT technology used for checked baggage, the machines create such a clear picture of a bag’s contents that computers can automatically detect explosives, including liquids. In the future, the goal is to keep laptops and 3-1-1 liquids inside of the bag during checkpoint screening. Under current screening procedures for this technology, laptops are allowed to remain inside the bag for screening.”
The CT systems have already been installed at checkpoints in more than a dozen U.S. airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Oakland International Airport (OAK), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), Houston Hobby Airport (HOU), Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL). In some cases, passengers at these pilot airports are already permitted to leave both large electronics and carry-on sized liquids in their bags when passing through the checkpoint.
[Image Source: American Airlines]