Tampa International Airport is TSA test bed for explosives trace detection portals

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Local Press Release
Tuesday, August 3, 2004

TAMPA, Fla. – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today it has begun an operational test and evaluation of an explosives trace detection portal at a passenger security checkpoint at Tampa International Airport.

In June, TSA began testing at T.F. Green State Airport, Providence, R.I., and Greater Rochester (N.Y.) International Airport, and in July at San Diego International Airport. In the next few weeks, machines will be introduced to air travelers at Gulfport-Biloxi (Miss.) International Airport.

The portal, the GE EntryScan3, is designed to analyze air for traces of explosive material and will be evaluated for effectiveness in the airport environment. The tests will be conducted for 30 to 45 days at each airport.

"TSA, in keeping with its vision of exploiting technology to its maximum advantage, is now deploying these Entry Scan Trace Portals to test their capability and enhance our security process for passenger screening," said Dario Compain, TSA Federal Security Director at Tampa. "The testing of this technology here at Tampa is made possible through a continuing partnership with the airlines and officials at Hillsborough County Aviation Authority."

At Tampa International, passengers who enter the checkpoint lane with the trace portal machine will place their carry-on baggage on the conveyer belt to be screened by X-ray, and then be asked to step into the trace portal. There, passengers will 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. Passengers will then go to the walk-through metal detector and collect their carry-on baggage from the X-ray.