By Karl Henkel
The Transportation Security Administration’s latest technology officially debuted Tuesday at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
The Advanced Imaging Technology machine comes equipped with automated target- recognition software that enhances passengers’ privacy.
The device at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport cost about $180,000, said Jim Fotenos, from the TSA’s Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs. The machine was purchased by the TSA.
Instead of typical X-ray machines, which can detail specific body parts, the AIT machine shows only the outline of a passenger and points out any metallic or nonmetallic threats such as weapons and explosives.
The imaging technology has been deemed safe by the TSA, which says the machine emits 1,000 times less energy than international limits and guidelines.
Upon entry into the cylindrical-shaped device, passengers will be asked to remove everything from their pockets — including any paper items such as tissues or paper towels — and take off their shoes and belts.
The passenger then stands inside the AIT machine with his or her hands in the air — almost as if they’re a football official signaling a touchdown — until a TSA agent gives the OK to exit the machine.
At that point, the TSA agent can look at an outlined image of the passenger to determine if he or she is carrying any suspicious objects.
The agent won’t be able to identify any object; a search will determine that.
Passengers may still have to go through metal detectors prior to the AIT machine, and any carry-ons still must be checked by an X-ray scanner. Passengers also can elect to be patted down instead of going through the AIT.
There are nearly 500 AIT units at 78 airports nationwide.
Hundreds more are slated for purchase and installation at later dates.