Despite the challenge of these ongoing uncertainties, manufacturers are moving forward with upgrades and new products to help get passengers through the checkpoint as fast as possible without sacrificing security.
For market leaders L-3 and Rapiscan, the focus is on making their machines faster, smaller, and more efficient while adapting them to detect newer threats. “We’re always looking to improve the detection, the automated target recognition, the size of the equipment, and the throughput of the system,” says Frain. Rapiscan Executive Vice President Peter Kant says that his company is developing a machine that can scan passengers while they walk through, eliminating the need for them to stop and pose. The company has also integrated metal detection into its backscatter machine, but TSA will have to test the machine to ensure that it meets its screening requirements before it can be rolled out.
For airports that cannot currently handle Rapiscan machines because they simply can’t fit them at the checkpoint, Kant says the company has already deployed a much smaller machine at remote operating bases owned by the U.S. military.
“We are taking that system, which is roughly 40 percent smaller, and applying it to the airport environment,” he adds.
Two other companies have alternative technology that can fit in checkpoints as primary, secondary, or supplemental solutions that fill particular security needs.
Morpho Detection. Morpho Detection, which is part of Morpho, the security unit of the French corporation Safran, is trying to fill security needs not currently addressed at the checkpoint. In the near future, the company hopes to deploy shoe scanning equipment and tennis racket-size screening wands that can positively verify explosives material on a passenger.