New TSA checkpoint equipment at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport to increase security efficiency

Local Press Release
Thursday, February 11, 2016

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A new Transportation Security Administration checkpoint is now in use at the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO). The new checkpoint improves the efficiency of the security screening process for travelers by adding more space for passengers as well as TSA security operations with the installation of new state-of-the-art screening equipment.

The new two-lane checkpoint has grown more than three-fold, expanding from 840 to 2,640 square feet of space. Construction was funded by a partnership between the Virginia Department of Aviation (VDOA) and the airport as part of its major terminal improvement project. The new checkpoint screening equipment was provided by TSA to include a new Advanced Imaging Technology scanner. Also new to the checkpoint is a wide-angle closed circuit video monitoring system and a private TSA screening room for travelers who request it.

The relocation of TSA’s old offices and break room and the airport’s retail concession were the first steps in preparing for the checkpoint renovation. When the TSA offices were relocated, it allowed for the construction of a dedicated queuing area to better accommodate passenger flow. When the airport’s retail provider’s lease area was relocated, it allowed for the reconfiguration and expansion of the checkpoint area. During the reconfiguration, the checkpoint equipment and screening lanes were rotated approximately 90 degrees to allow passengers to access the space from the new queuing area.

TSA screens approximately 2 million passengers and their luggage every day for prohibited items, including weapons and explosives. To do this, TSA uses imaging technology to safely screen passengers for any items which may be concealed under clothing, while X-ray units screen all carry-on baggage. With the addition of the new Advanced Imaging Technology scanning machine at CHO, TSA is able to further strengthen security for passengers flying out of the Charlottesville area. The machine is state-of-the-art equipment with new automated target recognition software –designed to enhance passenger privacy while improving throughput capabilities of the technology and streamlining the checkpoint screening process.

“Advanced Imaging Technology remains a critical part of TSA’s ability to detect the aviation security threats of tomorrow,” said TSA’s Federal Security Director Chuck Burke. “We remain committed to deploying this integral counterterrorism tool in order to ensure the highest level of security for the traveling public.”

AIT is designed to enhance security by safely screening passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats—including weapons, explosives and other objects concealed under layers of clothing.

There is a generic image of all passengers who are screened through the new automated image technology checkpoint screening equipment. It’s the same generic image for all passengers, regardless of their gender, height or weight and is designed to enhance passenger privacy.

Imaging technology screening is safe for all travelers, and the technology meets all known national and international health and safety standards. In fact, the energy emitted by millimeter wave technology is 1,000 times less than the international limits and guidelines.

“The unveiling of our newly reconfigured TSA checkpoint is a major and long-awaited highlight in our terminal improvement project,” said CHO Airport Executive Director Melinda Crawford. “When we approached the Virginia Department of Aviation in 2013 about assisting CHO with funding of a terminal renovation project that would provide significant customer service improvements for our passengers, the VDOA willingly became our partners. Funding for the project was approved in the winter of 2014 and this airport has been in total construction mode since January 2015. When we look at that checkpoint, we see a great transformation and we realize we are nearing completion of an improvement project that will enhance passenger traffic at CHO now and for years to come,” Crawford said.

“This new checkpoint provides a brighter, more spacious and professional area for our screening operations and allows for future space to expand to accommodate additional flights and passengers going forward,” Burke added.   

The new checkpoint is the latest addition to the airport’s Terminal Improvement Project featuring improvements and upgrades throughout the terminal including a new sit-down restaurant, new retail space, a new state-of-the-art exit lane and newly renovated restroom facilities. An additional overflow parking lot also has been added to accommodate extra vehicles.