The Transportation Security Administration plans to expand the use of computed tomography scanners at airport security checkpoints, including adding one at Los Angeles International Airport in the next few months.
The TSA has been touting the use of so-called CT scanners to more easily identify explosives and weapons hidden in carry-on bags and to speed up the screening process.
CT scanners have long been used in hospitals for medical imaging and are now used to screen checked luggage in the nation’s airports. But they have only recently been tested to screen carry-on bags because the units are now small enough to fit in airport checkpoints.
The security agency plans to add units in 15 airports in the next few months and a total of 40 CT scanners by the end of the year, increasing to 145 units by the end of fiscal year 2019. The scanners will be paid for by a $71-million fund added by the Trump administration to the 2019 fiscal year budget.
“TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoints.”
The CT scanner can create 3-D images of the contents of a bag, allowing TSA officers to rotate the images to better analyze the contents. In the future, the CT scanner may allow passengers to leave laptops and liquids inside of their carry-on bags, TSA officials say. An algorithm used by the scanner also alerts TSA officers to possible explosives in the bags.
The first 15 CT scanners will be deployed at 15 airports across the country, including LAX, Oakland International Airport, San Diego International Airport, McCarran International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
The TSA began testing CT scanners last year at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport. A third unit was deployed at John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this week.