TSA to begin testing imaging technology at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Local Press Release
Thursday, July 30, 2009

CLEVELAND – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it will begin testing two types of advanced imaging technology at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Imaging technologies quickly and unobtrusively screen passengers for metallic and nonmetallic threats without physical contact.

Millimeter wave and backscatter imaging technologies provide enhanced detection capabilities and are 100 percent optional for all passengers. Both technologies have privacy protections in place for the traveler. The security officer who assists the passenger through the screening process never sees the image the technology produces. The image is viewed by a remotely located security officer who never sees the traveler. Further, these technologies cannot save, print, or transmit images. Once the image is deleted it cannot be restored. To further protect passenger privacy, millimeter wave technology blurs all facial features and backscatter has an algorithm applied to the entire image.

"Imaging technologies are a critical layer of security that allows TSA to screen passengers for a wide range of threats," said Michael Young, Federal Security Director, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Transportation Security Administration. "TSA is committed to implementing new technologies that combine privacy protections with a high level of detection to ensure the safety of the traveling public."

Millimeter wave technology uses harmless electromagnetic waves and 10,000 times less energy than a cell phone to perform a single scan. Backscatter technology uses low-level X-ray and a single scan is the equivalent of flying on an airplane for approximately two minutes. These technologies produce an image that allows TSA to remotely screen passengers for threats without physical contact.

At Cleveland, TSA will assess the operational efficiency and public acceptance of these technologies as the primary screening technology in lieu of the traditional metal detector. Both technologies are 100 percent optional for all passengers. Passengers that choose not to be screened by imaging technology will receive a physical pat down. It is anticipated the test will last approximately 60 days.

Imaging technology not only enhances security, it reduces the need for pat-down searches for passengers with joint replacements and other medical conditions.

For further information about TSA, please visit our Web site at www.tsa.gov. To provide feedback on this or other issues visit TSA's blog at www.tsa.gov/blog.