The federal Transportation Security Administration has started using advanced imaging technology to scan passengers at the Greater Rochester International Airport.
The new machine, a backscatter X-ray scanner, is expected to remain in Rochester for a 60-day test period, said John McCaffrey, federal security director of the Greater Rochester International Airport. When using the machine, security officials can quickly and unobtrusively screen passengers without any physical contact. The machine is being used in one of the airport’s six security lanes, in place of a metal detector.
“We’re very excited to have this equipment in Rochester,” McCaffrey said Monday. “This is an additional layer of security that gives our officers the tools to detect threats and has privacy protections built in for the traveling public.”
McCaffrey said the machine reduces the need for pat-down searches for passengers with joint replacements or other medical conditions, because the machine scans for metal and nonmetal objects in a person. Use of the machine is safe for all passengers, he said.
Backscatter technology uses a low level X-ray. A passenger stands in the machine — without shoes on — with his or her hands in the air for several seconds while the image is captured.
That image is instantly viewed by a remotely located security officer who never sees the passenger, said Lara Uselding, regional public affairs manager for TSA.
The computer image shows a chalk outline of the passenger with his or her head blurred. Once the passenger is cleared, the image is deleted. Images are never saved, stored, printed or transmitted, Uselding said.