published Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Chattanooga airport getting full-body scanner

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    A full body scanner is coming next week to the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport passenger check points.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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Some of the biggest changes in Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport's passenger security checkpoint since 9/11 are coming by the end of the month.

The airport is to receive a full-body scanner, called an Advanced Imaging Technology machine, at the checkpoint for the first time.

The airport plans to open a second security lane during peak travel times to help speed passengers to their gates.

Terry Hart, interim airport president, said public security is among Lovell Field's core missions.

"It aligns with our customer service goals," he said.

Jon Allen, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman in Atlanta, said the machine costs about $150,000 and is paid for by the federal government.

He said the equipment is a next generation unit that's not as invasive as previous scanners.

"Now there is no longer an image specific to a person," Allen said about the unit that will be installed. "The software offers privacy enhancements."

He said TSA in September purchased the units and has started to deploy them. About 70 have been installed since then.

Airport spokeswoman Christina Siebold said that if the machine's alarm is set off, it shows a generic outline of the body with a highlighted circle where the potentially threatening item is hidden.

She said the airport has reconfigured the checkpoint area for the machine and the second lane at a cost of about $19,000.

Allen said people are selected to be scanned at random.

A traveler can elect to bypass the scanner and be subject to a thorough pat-down, he said.

Allen said that about "99 percent elect to be screened."

Airport passengers on Wednesday had mixed feelings about the scanner.

Steve Maxwell, of Charlotte, N.C., said he hates that it's needed.

"The world has changed," he added.

Kenneth Tickle of Rhea County, Tenn., said the equipment is used in Afghanistan where he was stationed in the military.

"I think it's good," he said.

TSA began deploying the imaging technology in 2007. There are about 540 scanners at more than 100 airports nationwide, Allen said. Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville airports already have them.

TSA said no additional staff will be added to the airport.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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PaulWilson said...

This technology is just another example of further invasion into our personal privacy. People should be screened sure but, at what point do you draw the line?

December 15, 2011 at 9:33 a.m.
onetinsoldier said...

They must have ordered the widescreen version for Chattanooga.

December 15, 2011 at 12:11 p.m.
meganrael said...

Here is my opinion on the scanners. Americans gave up a piece of our privacy in traveling 10 years ago, and the only reason why people are so upset about the scanners now is because they've forgotten what its purpose is to begin with. If the scanners were introduced right after 9/11, they wouldn't have been a big deal; the majority would have wanted them in all the major airports. I would rather be screened every time I fly than have one more 9/11. We can't have both security and privacy; there has to be some give and take on both ends.

December 15, 2011 at 12:17 p.m.
GeorgiaRebel said...

You don't obtain security by foregoing liberty. The scanners have stopped ZERO terrorists since their introduction. The TSA has also stopped ZERO terrorists since its creation. Both should go. They neither provide security nor enhance safety.

December 15, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.
bigguy said...

Why don't they just make you strip and have sex with the person in front of you? This would promote sharing, which is our government's new main goal.

December 15, 2011 at 8:58 p.m.
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