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Hobby Airport Receives New Screening Equipment

Houston Airport System
May 24, 2010

© Houston Airport System
New security screening equipment will soon be heading to HOU airport

Full-body scanners will arrive at William P. Hobby (HOU) Airport this year, as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) designates an additional twenty U.S. airports to receive the devices for the first time.

The scanners are designed to alert TSA personnel when a passenger is potentially carrying weapons, such as guns, explosive devices or other prohibited items and according to the latest announcement, Hobby Airport is in line to receive six of them.

“We’re very excited to be receiving this state-of-the-art technology,” said Frank Haley, chief operating officer for the Houston Airport System (HAS). “Airport security is built on the idea that you should have several layers in place to protect the traveling public, and these scanners are going to be a valuable addition to that approach.”

Since the scanning machine creates an X-ray type image of the inspected passenger, TSA screeners are given a greater opportunity to discover prohibited items which may be hidden beneath clothing or other areas.

“Many factors are taken into consideration before these units are deployed, including airport readiness, checkpoint infrastructure and capacity to ensure privacy protections – including a separate, remotely located room for viewing images,” says a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The scanners, called advanced imaging technology (AIT), were originally studied at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) during a TSA pilot program which took place in the summer of 2009.

Since that time, a total of 58 devices have been deployed to 24 different airports across the country.

“Deploying advanced imaging technology at these airports strengthens our ability to protect the traveling public in the face of evolving threats to aviation security,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Secretary Napolitano adds that numerous security measures are employed within the system in order to protect the privacy of the passengers. For example, the machine employs a filter which blurs the X-ray image in certain areas so that the passenger is not identified, and images are permanently and immediately deleted after being inspected by the TSA screener.

These measures are in addition to the fact that the process of viewing the image takes place in a remote location and not in the security checkpoint area itself.

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