DENVER -- The TSA has begun
trialing a screening system that allows passengers to pose with their arms
down, rather than the arms-above-the-head pose required for existing systems.
The U.S.'s first Enhanced
Advanced Imaging Technology screening station is now operating at Denver's
airport. If the system performs as expected, the TSA expects to gradually roll out
the next-generation technology at airports around the country.
A demonstration of the Enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology scanner. Photo Credit: Robert Silk
"The technology will not
only focus on threat protection, but will also smooth the experience for the
traveler," TSA federal security director for Colorado Larry Nau told the
media ahead of a demonstration of the new technology Monday.
Nau said the system is
seconds quicker than the agency's longstanding scanners for each flyer who
passes through screening. By not requiring passengers to stand with their arms
above the head, it is also more comfortable, he said. From the perspective of
health, it uses a type of non-ionizing radio-frequency energy that emits less
radiation than a cell phone.
In the demonstration,
individuals posed briefly for the scanners with their arms at their side. Video
screens then informed agents of whether the subjects could be cleared, if they
needed additional inspection or if the scan didn't work.
In cases where the scan didn't
work, agents were able to redo the screenings after asking the subject to make
a positioning adjustment -- an improvement over present TSA technology, which
requires the person to step out of the machine and then back in if they are to
be scanned again.
The system can have up to
three stations for passengers who require additional screening, rather than
just the one that current TSA systems support, which Nau said will speed the
The Enhanced Advanced Imaging
Technology system at Denver's airport will be tested for 90 days. The TSA will
measure its effectiveness from both a safety and efficiency standard. The
agency will learn whether the system results in officers having to perform few
intrusive physical pat downs, as it expects.
If the system passes the
test, Denver Airport could be one of its first major users. The airport said the
scanning technology could be implemented airport-wide by 2021, when a
renovation of its main terminal's Great Hall is slated for completion.