ST. GEORGE – With an increasing amount of passengers flying out of St. George in recent years, the St. George Regional Airport became a candidate to receive a new piece of screening equipment from the Transportation Security Administration – a full-body scanner.
“We’re really happy to have the body scanner here and installed at St. George,” TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said Thursday.
Passengers from St. George are feeding into the aviation system across the country and beyond, Dankers said, and the body scanner provides “an additional layer of security.”
“It’s designed to detect metallic and non-metallic items that may be concealed under a passenger’s clothing,” Dankers said. “This is important because we know explosives remain the greatest threat against aviation, and explosives can be made out of a non-metallic substance.”
Officially known as Advanced Imaging Technology, the body scanner is the primary screening method utilized by the TSA.
Once an individual steps into the booth and is scanned, a generic outline of a human body appears on a screen in front of waiting TSA agents. If there is nothing found, a “CLEAR” pops onto the screen. If something is found, a yellow box appears in the general location where a suspect item was detected.
TSA agents do a localized pat-down of the area rather than a full-body pat-down in these cases, Dankers said.
Travelers with metallic-implants, such as replacement hips and knees, will love the body scanner, Dankers said, because their implants won’t set it off as they would a metal detector.
The decision to install a body scanner at the St. George Regional Airport was made in part due to the increasing number of travelers flying out of it. Over the last three years there has been a 21 percent increase in departing fliers, according to the TSA.
In 2014, TSA agents at the St. George Regional Airport checkpoint screened approximately 77,000 passengers. By 2016 they had screened more than 96,000 passengers.
Other factors involved in picking where a body scanner will be put include issues related to the destinations of outgoing flights and potential risks, among a variety of other qualifiers.
“This airport fit those categories,” Dankers said.
Body scanners have been used in other airports for four years or more, with 140 more planned to be installed in other airports across the country. The cost of installation runs around $104,000 per unit.
The system works by scanning an individual with what is called “milometer wave technology” that uses electromagnetic waves to scan someone. According to the TSA, the energy emitted from the scan is 1,000 times less than international limits and guidelines and is well within national and international health and safety standards.
The body scanner at the St. George Regional Airport was put into use last Friday.
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