"The Transportation Security Administration, airports, airlines and manufacturers are gearing up for a major effort to replace X-ray machines at checkpoints with computed tomography scanners—CT scanners similar to what hospitals use. They can give a clean, 3-D look inside cluttered bags, which have become a big problem for the TSA."
American Airlines and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said on Thursday they were testing a new high-definition airport screening device that could allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in carry-on luggage during screening and potentially avoid new restrictions on in-cabin electronics.
The bottlenecking that occurs around checkpoint security has driven passenger complaints over the course of the last 15 years. Increased security wait times have forced travelers to relegate important travel items to their checked baggage or risk missing their flights.
According to analysis by the IATA CoF Committee, a meaningful portion of the inefficiencies at these checkpoints is attributable to the number of divestitures passengers are required to make before passing through security. The figure below highlights two of the largest contributors are the removal of electronics and liquid restrictions. Combined these restrictions account for 23% of all airport checkpoint delays.
Current guidelines allow passengers to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in carry-on luggage. Individual liquid containers are restricted to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. However, the quart-sized bag must be removed from carry-on bags and screened separately. Likewise, when it comes to electronics, anything larger than a standard size laptop must be screened separately.
While these practices have been the norm for a while and passengers have acclimated to some degree, passenger traffic has grown over 20% from 2003 to 2014. Assuming passenger traffic continues to grow in the future, the existing guidelines will become unsustainable and will lead to increasingly long wait times.
Attribution analysis of airport checkpoint delays (%)
Source: IATA CoF Committee
The current airport climate has bred a set of dueling forces when it comes to the makeup of carry-on luggage. The following forces have incentivized more false alarms, longer checkpoint delays, and overall operational inefficiency.
Airlines - Continue to impose fees on customers for either overweight bags or additional checked luggage.
Passengers - Motivated to avoid extra charges imposed by airlines, passengers pack items in their carry-on luggage that they otherwise would have stowed. These include electronics, smaller liquids and miscellaneous items.
Terrorists - Have become attuned to some of the practices of checkpoint operators. As a result, they have deviated from traditional explosive devices to homemade explosives, which are considerably harder to visually identify.
The three combine to make an airport operator’s job akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Computer Tomography is the only technology equipped to meet these demands.
Therefore, the need for improved image resolution at the checkpoint has become more important than ever. The DETECT ™ 1000 delivers the best Explosive Detection System (EDS) image resolution in existence. The superior resolution, coupled with excellent automated explosive detection capabilities and operator alerts, make visual identification of threats far more probable.
For example, the following pictures were taken from a 2016 customer trial in which ~96% of all inserted threats were found by trained operators. The DETECT ™ 1000’s results are in stark contrast to the tests conducted in 2015 by the Department of Homeland Security's “red teams” who were able to get banned items through the screening process in 67 out of 70 tests conducted across the nation.