American Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) unveiled new screening technology at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 8 on Tuesday, marking the start of a new partnership between American and the TSA to increase safety while also streamlining the security screening process. The centerpiece of the new partnership is an advanced computed technology (CT) scanner that offers enhanced explosive detection capabilities.
The new scanners are touted by both the TSA and American as state-of-the-art advanced technology due to its new threat detection features. For example, when the bag enters the scanner, hundreds of x-ray photographs are instantly taken of the bag, giving the screener a 3-D model of the bag and its contents. The 3-D model reduces the need for lengthy bag checks and would allow for passengers to leave liquids and laptop computers inside their bags.
“Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at a checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.” This partnership will allow us to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.”
On display in one checkpoint lane at JFK’s Terminal 8, American and TSA invited the press to view the new machine and give a demonstration to the public. TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein opened the event, thanking American for purchasing and gifting the machine to TSA to test and use.
John Bambury, TSA’s Federal Security Director for JFK Airport, stated that the partnership between TSA and American enables the agency to deploy new technology quickly and increase terror detection capabilities at the terminal. One of the goals for the machines, according to Bambury, is to allow passengers to leave laptops and liquids in carry-on bags.
The CT scanners, developed by Analogic Corporation, were purchased by American at a cost of around $8 million per unit. CT technology is already used at airports and has been for 20 years, only for checked bags, however. These machines allow for the technology to be used in the checkpoints with carry-on bags in an efficient manner. The partnership with the TSA enables American to test the scanners at its locations across the country, with JFK as its flagship location, and potentially abroad beginning this year.
Unlike the automated scanners favored at international airports around the world, these machines are half-automated, half-manually operated. The pre-scanner portion of the belt, where the passenger first puts his/her luggage on the belt is manually operated, requiring passengers to still push their bags and other items into the scanner. On the other side, however, the system is fully automated
While the project is privately funding by American, John Stone of Analogic Corporation stated that Congress is starting to appropriate more funds to place more of the machines around the country, a critical step in increasing the safety and convenience of air travel in the modern age.