TSA's new CT baggage scanners coming to PHL; could save passengers time and hassle

CT scanners, similar to those used in hospitals, will soon be deployed at more than a dozen airports in the United States, including Philadelphia International.

The machines employ state-of-the-art 3-D technology called computed tomography which can generate clear images used to check baggage for explosives and other threatening items. Current security scanners use 2-D imaging.

The TSA’s new CT scanner machines should make getting through airport security less burdensome for passengers. Credit: TSA

If they pass their test runs, the machines could save passengers from the hassle of unpacking and repacking their carry-on luggage, result in fewer bag checks, and generally speed the process of passing through TSA checkpoints. In the not-too-distant future, passengers may also be able to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.

“We feel it will improve the passenger experience,” said Michael McCarthy, a TSA spokesman. “With the 3-D imaging, a security officer can rotate the bag and easily see what’s beneath the stuff on top. By manipulating the image, they can see an item is a laptop or a tablet, for instance.”

The machines are manufactured by L3 and IDSS, McCarthy said. The first airport CT scanners have been deployed at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, Boston’s Logan International, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International.

“We hope to have them at Philadelphia and additional airports by the end of the year,” McCarthy said. More than 145 will be in terminals by the end of fiscal year 2019.