Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is among several airports nationwide that will receive full-body image scanners to be used as part of the security screening process, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced.
Though LAX is one of a number of national airports currently using the technology, LAX will be implementing the body scanners on a wider basis.
This walk-through imaging technology efficiently detects metallic and non-metallic threats, including weapons, explosives and other items that a passenger may be carrying, without physical contact, TSA officials said. The whole-body screeners can detect a wide range of threats to transportation security in a matter of seconds to protect passengers and crews, agency officials noted.
Los Angeles officials, who have pushed for the scanners on a wider basis, hailed the expanded implementation at LAX. The machines will be purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, a spokesperson for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
“Full-body imaging is a unique and effective strategy to detect threats that could go unnoticed otherwise,” Villaraigosa said. “With good protocols and training, full-body imaging can prevent attacks while preserving personal privacy, and I fully support its deployment at every airport in the U.S. to enhance the effectiveness of passenger screenings.”
The mayor said he is grateful to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its support for the expansion of this technology at LAX and other airports.
Congresswoman Jane Harman, chair of the Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence and terrorism risk assessment, said, “If reports are correct, LAX should receive eight AITs (Advanced Imaging Technology machines) and be asked to transfer its three existing AITs to another airport.
“I was told by Los Angeles World Airports and TSA officials that they had already expanded the use of bomb-sniffing dogs and trace detection swabs, and they hoped they would receive an AIT for each of the eight terminals,” she continued. “This action meets this request and I hope the equipment arrives quickly.”
TSA officials said the scanners are a key part of the agency’s effort to continually look for new technologies that help ensure travel remains safe and secure by staying ahead of evolving threats.
Advanced imaging technology screening is safe for all passengers, and the technology meets national health and safety standards, according to TSA.
Addressing concerns of privacy, Villaraigosa and Harman, who have each undergone the body screening, said the technology is not nearly as invasive as some may believe. TSA officials said they have implemented strict measures to protect passenger privacy, which is ensured through the anonymity of the image.
The image cannot be stored, transmitted or printed, and is deleted immediately once viewed. Additionally, advanced imaging technology screening is optional to all passengers, officials noted.
Passengers who do not wish to undergo this screening will receive an equal level of screening, including a physical pat-down, but most travelers have indicated that they prefer the advanced imaging to other screening options, according to TSA.
The scanners are manufactured by Rapiscan Systems, a Southern California company. The Department of Homeland Security expects the first phase of installation to be completed at airports by the summer.
TSA expects to deploy a total of 450 advanced imaging machines by the end of the year.