TSA launches millimeter wave technology at Raleigh-Durham International Airport

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Local Press Release
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today the launch of millimeter wave technology at the new Terminal 2 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). Millimeter wave detects weapons, explosives and other threat items concealed under layers of clothing without any physical contact.

"The use of whole body imaging is a significant step forward in checkpoint technology," said TSA Raleigh-Durham Federal Security Director Michael Zunk. "By expanding the use of millimeter wave, we are providing our officers with another tool to enhance security and protect the public from evolving threats."

To ensure privacy, security officers view images from a remote location. From that location, the security officer cannot ascertain the identity of the passenger, either visually or otherwise, but can communicate with a fellow officer at the checkpoint if an alarm is presented. A security algorithm will be applied to the image to blur the face of each passenger, further protecting privacy. Images cannot be stored, printed or transmitted and are deleted forever once cleared. In fact, the machines have zero storage capacity.

When Terminal 2 at Raleigh-Durham opens Oct. 26, millimeter wave will be used in a random continuous protocol. Use of the technology is voluntary and any passenger who is randomly selected may opt for a different form of screening, like a pat-down. The technology is also a voluntary alternative to a pat-down during secondary screening. During the Phoenix pilot, 90 percent of passengers have chosen the technology over the traditional pat-down.

Millimeter wave uses electromagnetic waves to generate an image based on the energy reflected from the body. It passes harmless electromagnetic waves over the human body to create a robotic image. It is safe and the energy emitted by millimeter wave technology is 10,000 times less than that of a cell phone.

Millimeter wave technology is currently in use at Los Angeles (LAX), John F. Kennedy (JFK) in New York, Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Albuquerque, Ronald Reagan Washington, Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Miami and Phoenix Sky-Harbor airports and will continue to roll out to more airports this year.

For more information on millimeter wave technology visit www.tsa.gov.