TSA, American Airlines to test automated screening lanes at select airports this fall

DALLAS, July 5 (UPI) — The Transportation Security Administration and the United States’ largest carrier announced a joint initiative Tuesday that will test new automated passenger screening lanes at certain U.S. airports beginning this fall.

The plan by the TSA and American Airlines will test new screening technology, including automated security screening lanes and what’s known as computed tomography (CT) scanners to inspect carry-on luggage. CT screening is already used to evaluate checked luggage.

Officials said the new technology should reduce wait times at security checkpoints by about 30 percent.

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“Our foremost priority is the security of the traveling public,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said in a statement Tuesday. “To ensure that we remain up-to-date in an evolving threat environment, TSA continues to test and deploy state-of-the-art technologies.

“This collaboration with American Airlines is an important step in enhancing the traveler experience while maintaining effective security.”

The new procedures will be tested beginning this fall at various American hubs across the United States, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami, and the CT carry-on screening will be tested at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport.

The TSA’s news comes amid a busy summer travel season, which has seen long security lines at some of the nation’s busiest airports, like Chicago’s O’Hare.

“We are proud to be working collaboratively with the TSA to support next generation screening technology at five of our hubs this fall,” American Airlines Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom said. “These state-of-the-art lanes, along with new detection technology that will be tested in Phoenix, will enhance security effectiveness and efficiency, while improving the customer experience.”

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The automated lanes will feature technology that screens luggage in X-ray machines, more efficiently isolates suspicious bags for further inspection, uses larger property bins, utilizes Radio Frequency Identification tags in bins, and takes additional images of baggage exterior for comparison to X-ray images.

“3D CT technology could make it possible to allow passengers to leave liquids, gels and aerosols, as well as laptops, in their carry-on bags at all times,” the TSA stated. “This results in a quicker throughput and less bin use. If the pilot testing is successful, TSA may deploy CT technology to other checkpoints nationwide.”

“Our responsibility is to keep passengers safe but also moving through security,” Neffenger added.

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