Great Falls International Airport gets new state-of-the-art checkpoint screening equipment

Local Press Release
Saturday, April 29, 2017

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has installed the latest security checkpoint screening technology at Great Falls International Airport (GTF).

The new body scanner, also referred to as advanced imaging technology (AIT), will be used to screen passengers for metallic and non-metallic items including weapons, explosives and other objects that can be concealed in layers of clothing. The body scanner at GTF is a second-generation AIT with a smaller footprint than earlier versions of the same type of machine that is in use at other U.S. airports.

“As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, keeping our country safe is my top priority,” U.S. Senator Jon Tester said. “I am pleased to see this state-of-the-art equipment installed in order to help TSA and GTF better serve Montanans. This equipment will make traveling safer, more efficient, and more convenient for folks across Montana.”

“The installation of an AIT in the TSA security checkpoint will increase the efficiency of the screening process for passengers departing GTF,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Montana Dan Fevold. “In addition, this technology is another way that TSA is able to detect current and evolving security threats to the aviation system.”

Every AIT unit operated by TSA is equipped with automated target recognition software, which is designed to enhance passenger privacy by creating a generic, computer generated outline that is identical for all travelers. If the body scanner detects a concealed item on the traveler, a yellow box appears on the generic outline. This box identifies where the TSA officer needs to conduct any follow-up screening.

The AIT unit is equipped with millimeter wave technology, which uses harmless electromagnetic waves to perform a single scan of the passenger. The technology meets all known national and international health and safety standards; the energy emitted by millimeter wave technology is 1,000 times less than the international limits and guidelines.

Because the body scanner is not a metal detector, many passengers including those with metal hips or knee replacements prefer to be screened by the AIT. In addition, the AIT does not use X-ray technology and it does not generate X-ray specific images of any traveler.

Below are some tips to help travelers prepare for AIT screening:

  • Remove all items - metallic and non-metallic - from pockets. Common items carried by passengers that should be removed include boarding passes, money including bills and coins, tissues, eye glasses, cell phones and keys.
  • TSA recommends securing these items in carry-on baggage prior to entering the body scanner.
  • When being screened by the body scanner, place both hands in the air, over the head. Stand as still as possible during the scan, which takes two to three seconds.

TSA completed installation of the AIT earlier this week. It is being used as the primary method of passenger screening at GTF.