O'Hare's Explosive-Detection Devices Delayed

The Transportation Security Administration may not meet its deadline for deploying a new explosives-detection device for passengers at O'Hare Airport, officials said Tuesday.

O'Hare was supposed to get seven trace-detection portals, or "puffers" as they are often called, by the end of the year.

But that goal is more in doubt now.

That's because unspecified "maintenance issues" have turned up in the batch of machines already in use at other airports, TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding said.

Uselding said she doesn't have a timeline for when the puffer machines might come to O'Hare.


Trace-detection portals use puffs of air to dislodge particles from a person's body or clothes to check for small amounts of chemicals used in bomb-making.

TSA already uses similar devices to screen baggage, but the puffer machines are the first at U.S. airports to screen people.

Midway Airport got two of the machines earlier this year.

They cost about $165,000 each.


So far, about 95 machines have been installed at 36 airports, including Midway, Uselding said.

Before more puffers show up at O'Hare and other airports, the TSA says, it needs to work with the manufacturer to address concerns about the models currently in use.

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