TSA to streamline US airport security checks with more 3D scanners

TSA to streamline US airport security checks with more 3D scanners

The Transportation Security Administration will increase the number of 3D X-ray scanners installed at US airports and roll out new technology to automatically scan travelers’ identities as they enter a screening lane.

The TSA is currently testing computed tomography or 3D X-rays, which shoot hundreds of images of a bag from different angles, to screen carry-on bags at 13 airports, and expects to buy 200 of the machines within a year. When the program was announced in late July, the agency estimated it would buy 145 of the devices.

TSA chief David Pekoske called the CT devices a “huge improvement.” Instead of the two images produced by existing X-ray machines, CT machines provide vastly improved views of the interior of a bag and also may someday be able to be programmed to automatically detect liquid explosives and weapons.

“I’ve watched them in operation,” Pekoske said. “They are a significant enhancement in security effectiveness. And I’ve also watched passengers actually self-align behind the CT machines because it’s a better passenger experience. Passengers are not required to take as many things out of their carry-on bags.”

CT technology has long been used for medical purposes and it’s also how the TSA screens checked bags that go in aircraft cargo areas. But it hasn’t been until recent improvements in computer power that the technology has been feasible for the screening lanes.

While having CT scanners at growing numbers of airport checkpoints offers benefits, the 200 still represents less than 10 percent of the nation’s 2,200 screening lanes. The costs of replacing existing X-ray machines hasn’t been estimated, but it may exceed a billion dollars.

The TSA is also planning to buy almost 300 new devices that will automatically read a traveler's drivers license or passport as they enter a screening lane and automatically match those against an airline reservation and screen against watch lists. Pekoske believes this will streamline the process because people won’t have to also show their boarding passes.



  • Chris Bershaw


    6 Sep, 2018 01:34 pm

    Interesting. I came through DFW yesterday and connected to a domestic flight. They were telling us to keep all items - including liquids in our hand luggage when going through the scanner. Seemed very bizarre, even by Australian standards, let alone US. Nothing was taken out of the bag whatsoever...

    Assuming this must be some part of the new technology they’re trying out.

    The only thing is this adds yet another layer of inconsistency to hand baggage scanning, where almost every airport has different requirements of what you take out, and what you leave in...
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  • Cheyne Jonstone


    7 Sep, 2018 02:01 pm

    Had this happen quite a few times, it's like winning the lottery. I've been told they do this to speed up the waiting time when they are not meeting their KPI's.
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  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    7 Sep, 2018 03:19 pm

    For sure. At Sydney I inevitably have to take off the RM Williams and belt. At Cape Town and Johannesburg was allowed to sail through with both items plus laptop that was allowed to stay in the bag.
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  • peteshep


    7 Sep, 2018 05:08 pm

    I’ve had this happen at DFW as well - particularly when connecting from another international flight through the transit security.
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  • Say Mee


    6 Sep, 2018 05:55 pm

    I would be very happy if they let people keep their shoes on, not sure how great it is to be around shoes that have not had fresh air in hours (transit pax) and also the time delay these belts and shoes cause. No one in the U.S seems to wanting this to change (or at least publicly)
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  • Himeno


    7 Sep, 2018 03:06 pm

    The TSA can streamline screening by getting rid of the slow, false alarm causing body scanners and letting people keep their shoes on.
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  • outthere1000


    7 Sep, 2018 10:25 pm

    This is described as a "CT scanner". How does this differ from a hospital scanner, which emits large amounts of radiation? How much radiation does the airport CT scanner emit? Radiation is cumulative, and for those of us who have had copious amounts of radiation as cancer treatment, this may be actually dangerous. Has anyone looked into this? Nothing seems to be being said about it, so how are we to know?
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  • sydunipete


    8 Sep, 2018 11:42 pm

    I flew Newark to Las Vegas and return last week, both times with this new procedure. It's fantastic. No getting out laptops, ipads etc. No need for trays containing all your junk. Just slide you bag along the roller. The scanning was also much quicker. The entire security process was so much quicker and simpler.
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18 Jul, 2019 05:30 pm


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