July 21, 2008

New Screening Systems Coming to South Florida Airports

By Ken Kaye, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Jul. 21--A millimeter wave machine (Transportation Security Administration / )

Two new high-tech screening systems, which closely inspect passengers and their carry-on items, are being installed at airports across the nation, including those in South Florida, to tighten security and speed up the process. The Transportation Security Administration showcased the systems at Miami International Airport on Monday.

One is the millimeter wave machine, which employs electromagnetic waves to scan passengers and check for weapons, explosives and other threat items concealed under layers of clothing. TSA officials say the waves are harmless, emitting less energy than that of a cell phone.

To undergo the scan, passengers step in a phone-booth size machine, which provides screeners with an image that resembles "a fuzzy negative," TSA officials said. The procedure is done without any physical contact and is a "promising alternative" to pat-downs, officials said.

After passing through the millimeter wave machine, passengers still must walk through the traditional metal detectors.

"The use of whole body imaging is a significant step forward in checkpoint technology," TSA Administrator Kip Hawley said in a statement. "By expanding the use of millimeter wave, we are providing our officers with another tool to enhance security and protect the public from evolving threats."

Miami International already has two of the millimeter wave machines operating at Concourses G and J. Four more machines will be installed in upcoming months, TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said.

While Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport also will have the machines installed in the near future, none are planned at Palm Beach International Airport for now, she said.

Millimeter wave technology is currently used at the Los Angeles, New York John F. Kennedy, Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Albuquerque, Ronald Reagan Washington, Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix Sky- Harbor international airports.

The TSA said it will deploy 30 more of the machines nationwide this year.

The other scanner showcased on Monday uses a multi-view X-ray that looks for weapons in carry-on bags. A total of 600 of these machines will be deployed in airports across the country during 2008.

For more information on millimeter wave and multi-view X-ray visit .


To see more of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sun-sentinel.com/.

Copyright (c) 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.