CT Scanners Are Coming to Niagara Falls and Buffalo Airports for Carry-on Luggage

March 8, 2022

Mar. 8—It's probably never a good idea to smuggle explosives aboard an airplane — even less so now.

State-of-the-art scanners featuring three-dimensional imaging and based on "computed tomography" (CT) technology are operating at Niagara Falls International Airport, adding another layer of protection for local air travelers following their installation by the Transportation Security Administration.

It might make your passage through security a little easier, too.

"The new units provide critical explosives detection capabilities at the checkpoint," said Bart R. Johnson, the TSA federal security director for upstate New York.

The new technology, which compares to those long CT tubes for people, is slated for Buffalo Niagara International Airport within a few weeks and at all upstate airports soon after, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. She said a laptop computer inside luggage would previously have to be removed because the old technology provided only two-dimensional pictures.

"Now the TSA officer, instead of looking at 2D pictures, can rotate from top to bottom and get a better understanding of whether something has been tampered with or concealed, and can say 'that's a laptop,' " she said.

The result, Farbstein said, should be smoother passage through the checkpoint because fewer passengers will be asked to remove laptops from their luggage.

According to TSA officials, the $198 million system will be installed nationwide and applies algorithms for explosive detection by creating a 3-D image that can be viewed and rotated on three axes by a security officer. If a bag requires further screening, they said, TSA officers will inspect to ensure no threats are contained inside.

"Our officers' use of CT technology substantially improves our threat detection capability at the checkpoint," Johnson said in a statement announcing the technology. " TSA's current screening technology for carry-on bags uses 2-D images."

The new system creates such a clear image of a bag's contents that explosives — including liquid explosives — are clearly detected. The images result after shooting hundreds of pictures with an X-ray camera spinning around the conveyor belt to provide TSA officers with the three-dimensional views of the contents of a carry-on bag, TSA officials said.

The agency said it confiscated 5,972 firearms around the nation last year, an all time high since it began compiling statistics in 2008.


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