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Manufacturers of airport security equipment may have a solution for travelers who fear they will have to give up laptops and tablet computers on international flights. At least four of the largest companies making screening devices say they are developing scanners so much better at detecting explosives than existing X-ray machines that passengers could leave laptops, other electronics and even liquids in their bags, vastly simplifying airport security.
“It’s a no brainer,” said Joseph Paresi, chief executive officer of Integrated Defense & Security Solutions, which has developed one of the new scanning machines that have passed initial United States government testing. After being burned by attempts to roll out new screening equipment in the past – such as having to warehouse hundreds of so-called puffer machines designed to detect explosives because they did not perform well in real-world conditions a decade ago the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has instituted layers of performance tests.
In addition, the US Congress hasn’t appropriated funds for large-scale purchases of the machines. Adding the devices, which cost several hundred thousand dollars each, at thousands of airport security lines in just the US could cost $1 billion or more. The US Department of Homeland Security in March banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from airliner cabins on flights from 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports to the US, citing concerns that terrorists had created ways to conceal explosives in them.
Since then, the agency has been considering expanding the ban to Europe – over the objections of the European Commission and air carriers.
According to straitstimes.com, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has not reached a decision on whether to extend the ban to Europe. At the same time, TSA is conducting tests of closer screening procedures for electronics at 10 US airports with an eye towards expanding them nationwide.
The TSA has tested two of the devices and plans to place one of each in airports later this year to study how they operate in the trying environment of airport security lanes. The devices are built by IDSS and L3 Technologies. TSA spokesman Michael England said in a statement that more testing would be needed before the new technology can be rolled out nationwide.