Airport Body Scanners: The Role of Advanced Imaging Technology in Airline Passenger Screening

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on September 24, 2012

Airport Body Scanners: The Role of Advanced Imaging Technology in Airline Passenger Screening. Bart Elias, Specialist in Aviation Policy, September 20, 2012

  • “Responding to the need to reliably detect explosives, bomb-making components, and other potential security threats concealed by airline passengers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has focused on the deployment of whole body scanners as a core element of its strategy for airport checkpoint screening. TSA has deployed about 700 of these scanners, known as whole body imagers (WBI) or advanced imaging technology (AIT), at airports throughout the United States, and plans to have 1,800 in place by the end of FY2014. AIT systems include two technologies: millimeter wave systems and X-ray backscatter systems. AIT directly addresses specific recommendations and mandates to improve the detection of explosives on passengers. However, the deployment of these systems has generated a number of concerns. Although polling data indicate that the American public generally accepts the use of body scanners for passenger screening, various stakeholders have expressed concerns over privacy, potential health risks, and delays in getting through security. Concerns have also been raised regarding screening individuals with special needs, the overall effectiveness of current technology, screener staffing requirements, and TSA’s deployment strategy.”
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