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"TSA demonstrates advanced-imaging technology at PTI airport"
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
TSA demonstrates advanced-imaging technology at PTI airport
By FRAN DANIEL
The Winston-Salem (NC) Journal
Passengers have a new screening option at security checkpoints at Piedmont
Triad International Airport.
The Transportation Security Administration installed two full-body scanners
at PTI last week — one on the north end of the airport's terminal and the
other on the south end. Two more machines are expected to be installed by
the end of this week. The machines cost about $150,000 each and are paid for
by the federal government.
The machines, which feature imaging technology, use privacy software for
"Imaging technology is optional," said Jon Allen, a spokesman for the TSA,
based in Atlanta. "If for any reason a passenger is not comfortable with the
technology, they can opt out of it. They will receive a thorough pat-down as
Here's how it works. Passengers step into a boothlike structure and put
their feet on a shoe sole pattern on a floor mat. After they raise their
arms, a screening machine makes a full-body scan.
The software features a monitor attached to the machines. When the software
detects potential threat items on a passenger during a screening, a generic
outline of the passenger's body appears on the monitor, highlighting areas
that need additional screening.
The outline looks the same for all passengers. If no anomalies are detected,
the text "OK" appears on the monitor with no outline. This means the
passenger is cleared.
The generic outline is automatically deleted from the system after it is
cleared by a security officer.
The machines are now at about 180 airports in the country.
About 99 percent of passengers given the option decide to be screened with
the full-body scanners, Allen said.
When the first two machines were being installed last week, PTI officials
asked people flying from the airport to arrive at least 90 minutes early to
be on time for their flights. Passengers with international flights were
asked to arrive two hours early.
Kevin Baker, the airport's executive director, said that there were several
reasons for the request, including the installation of the new security
equipment, an increased number of passengers and construction on a parking
"There have been a lot of changes all at once and we just want to make sure
that folks don't miss flights," Baker said.
He said that a few people with early-morning departures, from 5:30 a.m. to 8
a.m. in particular, have missed their flights.
"You have a number of large aircrafts going out at that time, and hundreds
of people trying to get through right here," he said referring to the north
security checkpoint. The new technology and the construction meant longer
wait times, he said.
He said that the additional full-body scanning machines to be installed by
the end of the week will increase the speed of getting people through the
"This is a temporary growing pain," Baker said.
Several people in the terminal on Monday said they did not mind arriving at
Shane Phillips, the owner of Shane's Collection, a furnishings business in
High Point, was headed to Atlanta. He said that being at the airport two
hours early is not a big deal.
Carol Carter of Walnut Cove was sitting with several family members,
including her granddaughter, Devin Smith, who was traveling to Germany.
"If you wait and get here too late, it could mess you up."
Carter said she has traveled out of PTI to Las Vegas many times and her
longest wait to get through security was 20 minutes.
She said larger airports need 1½ to 2 hours, but "they could probably cut
the time back to probably an hour and a half at small airports like this."
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