TSA expands use of noninvasive body scanners

The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its use of scanners that check for possible weapons or other objects without creating a detailed picture of the person being scanned.

Twenty-nine small and mid-sized airports will receive a total of 300 millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines, TSA announced. They will be added to the 500 AIT units already at 78 airports.

The new AIT machines have automated target recognition software that screens “passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats—including weapons, explosives and other objects concealed under layers of clothing,” TSA said.

Related coverage:

TSA doing away with full-view body scans

When a passenger is scanned with the new machines, TSA screeners see a generic human outline that identifies the location of any metallic or suspicious object. If no suspicious object is detected, the screeners see “OK” with no outline. TSA said the process also can help streamline the scanning process.

Millimeter wave technology meets national and international standards for passenger safety, its energy emissions at 1,000 times less than the international guidelines, TSA said.

The move to the new machines is in response to objections from travelers about the images of naked bodies created by the previous version of AIT machines, which people viewed as invasive. Many also viewed the alternative, a physical pat-down, as equally invasive.

In fact, legislators in Texas even tried to criminalize some pat-downs, although the effort fell short.

A list of airports scheduled to get the new machines follows.

  • Akron-Canton Regional (CAK)
  • Albany International (ALB)
  • Austin-Bergstrom International (AUS)
  • Baton Rouge Metropolitan (BTR)
  • Bishop International (FNT)
  • Casper/Natrona County International (CPR)
  • Chattanooga Metropolitan (CHA)
  • Daytona Beach International (DAB)
  • Durango-La Plata County (DRO)
  • Gainesville Regional (GNV)
  • Hilo International (ITO)
  • Kahului (OGG)
  • Killeen Fort Hood Regional (GRK)
  • Knoxville McGhee Tyson (TYS)
  • Lansing Capital City (LAN)
  • Manchester Boston Regional (MHT)
  • Meadows Field (BFL)
  • Norfolk International (ORF)
  • Pensacola Regional (PNS)
  • Peoria International (PIA)
  • Plattsburgh International (PBG)
  • Roberts Field-Redmond Municipal (RDM)
  • Rochester International (RST)
  • Rogue Valley International-Medford (MFR)
  • South Bend (SBN)
  • Stewart International (SWF)
  • Tallahassee Regional (TLH)
  • Wendover (ENV)
  • Youngstown-Warren Regional (YNG).

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