FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Advanced imaging technology is spreading in airports across thecountry. Friday Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) startedusing a full body scanner, becoming the 25th airport in the UnitedStates to have one.
Since 9-11, Congress charged the Transportation SecurityAdministration (TSA) with investing in technology to strengthenairport security. That has come in the form of body scanners.
"There is no silver bullet, but imaging technology is anintegral part of that effort," David Kane, Federal SecurityDirector for FWA, said.
Before Fort Wayne's addition, there were 58 units at 24different airport. The TSA plans to add a total of 450 scanners in2010. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds paid for thescanners, which are about $130,000 to $170,000 each.
The scanner in Fort Wayne is a Millimeter Wave machine. Harmlesselectromagnetic waves bounce off the body, sending a black andwhite image of the person to a TSA officer in a separate room. Theperson's face is blurred out on the scan.
"The officer is looking for anomalies on the body: somethingthat doesn't belong there. Anything not consistent with the contourof the body will show up," Kane said. "We feel confident with theequipment that we'll find those non-metallic items that can beeasily hidden under clothing."
That means passengers will have to get into the habit of takingthings out of their pockets, even if they aren't made of metal.
"Wallet, belt, large piece of jewelry [should all go in thebin]," Kane said.
If an anomaly shows up on the scan, the officer in the roomlooking at the image will tell the officer with the passenger wherethe anomaly is on the body. The TSA officer with the passenger willthen find out what's causing it. That could involve a pat-down.
Passengers do have the option to opt out of going through thescanner and would have to go through a metal detector and have apat-down. But, TSA officials said in the pilot program a few yearsago, 98 percent of the passengers did go through the scanner.
The scanners could even speed up going through security.
"Some people who are usually patted-down, like people with kneereplacements and hip replacements, [won't be]. This resolves thatand they can go right through," Kane said.
Kane added the scanners are safe for people with pacemakers.
Once inside the scanner, passengers have to raise their handsover their head. The actual scan takes a few seconds and the entireprocess takes about 15 to 20 seconds.
Some people have concerns about the scanner invading passengers'privacy, but the TSA ensures there is no way for the officer toconnect the body scan image with the person from whom it came.
The computer with the images also has no memory and can't storeany images. The scanned image is deleted once viewed and the nextperson is then scanned.
Six airports have backscatter scanners. Those use a very lowlevel x-ray instead of electromagnetic waves to achieve the samekind of scan.
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