KNOXVILLE, TN (WATE) – You may experience slightly longer wait times to go through security at McGhee Tyson Airport over the next few weeks as new technology is installed to improve baggage screening efficiency.
The Transportation Security Administration is phasing out its scanning technology across the country. It’s already started in East Tennessee.
New scanners are being installed at the TSA security checkpoint at McGhee Tyson Airport.
“We actually have some enhanced security capabilities because it’s a computed tomography scan similar to what you get in a hospital,” said Eddie McGaha, assistant federal security director for TSA in East Tennessee. “We just adjusted it for safety purposes.”
The first X-ray scanners could only display two-dimensional images. New CT scanners create a more three-dimensional view of passengers’ belongings.
“They can now rotate the image 360 degrees,” McGaha said. “So they can better see what’s in the bag.”
The goal is to improve the efficiency of security checkpoints.
“It’s nice because they don’t have to take anything out of the bag,” McGaha explained. “This includes electronics and compliant liquids. Really, for both parties, this would in theory lead to fewer baggage checks.”
McGhee Tyson will install three new scanners.
“Probably about a quarter of airports already have this technology, and many more are in development,” McGaha said.
It takes about a week for a scanner to be installed, which means passengers need to be aware that there may be an additional wait to get through security before the process is complete.
Once installed, every carry-on item had to be checked in a bin – not directly on the X-ray conveyor belt, and due to the size of the X-ray tunnel, oversized luggage could no longer be accommodated.
“Because of the novelty of this technology, the process may be a little bit slower to get started,” McGaha said. “So we do encourage people to show up early. We always want people to have enough time to come here and get their flights.”
They expect the installation to take about three weeks. They are replacing all three current scanners at once, which means they will have at least two of them working all the time.