Five airports to serve as TSA test bed for explosives trace detection portals

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National Press Release
Thursday, June 17, 2004

WASHINGTON – Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Acting Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), announced that TSA today began an operational test and evaluation of an explosives trace detection portal at a passenger security checkpoint at T.F. Green Airport, south of Providence, R.I.

By the end of July, four additional machines will be introduced to air travelers at Greater Rochester (N.Y.) International Airport, San Diego International Airport-Lindbergh FIeld, Tampa (Fla.) International Airport and Gulfport-Biloxi (Miss.) International Airport.

The trace portal machines, the GE EntryScan3, will be used to test the technology and its effectiveness in the airport environment. The tests will be conducted for 30 to 45 days at each airport.

"TSA continues to partner with private industry to test new and exciting technology as part of our commitment to provide the highest level of security to the American people," said Admiral Stone. "This project is part of our ongoing efforts to partner with the private sector and the aviation community as new technology becomes available."

At Providence, passengers who enter a checkpoint lane with a trace portal machine will proceed through the walk-through metal detector, while their carry-on baggage is being screened by X-ray. Travelers will then be asked to step into the trace portal, and stand still for a few seconds while several quick "puffs" of air are released. The portal will analyze the air for traces of explosives and a computerized voice will tell passengers when to exit the portal. The exact sequence of screening operations may vary slightly at each airport as TSA seeks ways to magnify benefits.

In May, TSA deployed an explosives trace detection portal at the New Carrollton, Md., rail station as part of the Phase I Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot (TRIP), a first-of-its-kind program designed to measure the feasibility of explosives screening in the transit and rail environment. The pilot yielded important data on the equipment's effectiveness, cost and impact on customer service. Information gathered from the pilot will be valuable in evaluating future security programs for specific threat conditions, special events and other modes of transportation.