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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

TSA Expands CT Bag Screening at Miami and Lynchburg Airports

Miami International Airport has installed seven state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) scanners at six Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. Passengers traveling through a lane with a CT scanner will now be permitted to leave laptops and other electronic devices in their carry-on bags.

The new technology provides improved explosive detection screening by creating a 3-D image that can be viewed and rotated on three axes for thorough visual image analysis by a TSA officer. If a bag requires further screening, TSA officers will inspect it to ensure that a threat item is not contained inside. 

“These new scanners from the TSA are helping us streamline and expedite the screening process for our passengers, at a time in air travel when a smooth-flowing checkpoint has never been more important,” said Lester Sola, MIA Director and CEO. “We are proud to be among the first U.S. airports to receive this expansion of CT technology by the TSA.”

The seven new units join three others previously installed when MIA became one of the first airports in the country to begin rolling out this technology in TSA checkpoints.

Like the existing three units, the machines use sophisticated algorithms to detect explosives, including liquid explosives. The CT checkpoint units were designed with a smaller footprint than those used for checked baggage to accommodate constrained checkpoint space.

Daniel Ronan, TSA’s Federal Security Director for MIA said the CT technology enhances TSA’s threat detection capability by allowing officers to use the 3-D feature to spin an image and determine if a threat is present without opening the bag.

TSA intends to test, procure, and deploy additional CT systems in airports as soon as possible. TSA is also continuing to develop enhanced algorithms to address evolving aviation threats while decreasing the number of physical bag searches needed to resolve alarms and thereby improve operational efficiency and automated detection. 

TSA has also installed a new CT scanner at Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH) to screen checked baggage. 

“This new piece of technology will streamline the check-in process, while adding efficiency, convenience and enhanced security,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “With the addition of this new security technology, only bags that trigger an alarm will need a manual inspection by our TSA officers. These units create a very clear image of a bag’s contents on a monitor and it enhances our capability to detect threat items such as explosives, including liquid explosives,” Burke said.

The screening of checked baggage for explosives at LYH had previously been conducted manually by using explosive trace detection equipment. TSA officers had been opening each checked bag and swabbing it for traces of explosives before allowing the bag to be cleared and loaded onto aircraft. The new CT system will screen baggage automatically and will alert TSA officials if something inside needs a closer inspection by a TSA officer. 

Travelers flying out of LYH with a piece of baggage to check will come to their airline check-in counter to get their baggage tagged for its destination. Then the passengers will take their tagged bags to the new checked baggage scanner where TSA officers will place them on the belt and scan them while the passenger proceeds to the checkpoint. 

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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