Friday, January 18, 2013

Rapiscan Backscatter Contract Terminated – Units to be Removed

You may remember us blogging about new privacy software we rolled out for the L3 Millimeter Wave body scanners. It’s called Automated Target Recognition (ATR), and with the use of this software, our officers no longer see an image of the person being screened. This is what our officers see if the passenger alarms:

ATR Monitor
ATR Monitor After Alarm
 You can read more about the ATR software here.

Congress mandated as a part of the The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that all TSA body scanners should be equipped with ATR by June 1, 2012 (There has since been an extension to June 1, 2013).

At this point, all Millimeter wave units have been equipped with ATR, but even with the extension to 2013, Rapiscan was unable to fulfill their end of the contract and create the ATR software that would work with backscatter units. As a result, TSA terminated the contract with Rapiscan in order to comply with the congressional mandate.

All Rapiscan AIT units currently operational at checkpoints around the country, as well as those stored at the TSA Logistics Center, will be removed by Rapiscan at their expense and stored until they can be redeployed to other mission priorities within the government. Most of the backscatter units being removed will be replaced with millimeter wave units. The millimeter units will be moved from the inventory currently deployed at other airports and from an upcoming purchase of additional millimeter wave units. 

By June 1, 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput.  This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security. 

As always, use of this technology is optional.

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

TSA Week in Review: 26 Loaded Firearms Discovered in Carry-on Bags This Week

6 loaded firearms.

 If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you check out our post from earlier this month. It’s a look at the dangerous, scary, and downright unusual items our officers found in 2012.


Stun Guns –Seven stun guns were discovered this week in carry-on bags around the nation: Akron-Canton (CAK), Denver (DEN), Detroit (DTW), Fort Myers (RSW), Salt Lake City (SLC), San Juan (SJU), Washington Dulles (IAD) 

What Not to Say at an Airport – Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience many other passengers if the checkpoint or terminal has to be evacuated:

  • A gate agent at Charlotte (CLT) asked a passenger what he was carrying in a box. The passenger replied: “I have a bomb.”

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things -- to mention a few…

Large knife.

Firearms - Here are pictures of some of the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. See a complete list below.  

4 loaded firearms.

33 guns discovered. 26 were loaded.
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items. 

*In order to provide a timely weekly update, I compile my data from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly (increase) from what I report in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear, or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will not be estimates.

Bob Burns 
TSA Blog Team 

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.