MANCHESTER – A different kind of surprise is in store for holiday travelers flying out of Manchester this winter.
The Transportation Security Administration said Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is expected to receive more than one full-body scanner for its security checkpoint, and the machines are likely to be up and running before Christmas.
The scanners should arrive in the coming weeks, according to TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis.
She said they come installed with privacy-enhancing software, Davis said, which means the image displayed is the same for everyone: a generic outline of a male or female body.
“It’s not an individual-specific image,” she said. “It gives relief to any passengers that had any prior concerns.”
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport will receive at least one scanner, she said, but the airport is likely in line for more than one.
The machines were purchased with money outlined in the federal budget. Each scanner costs somewhere between $130,000 and $170,000, Davis said.
The change has been embraced by air travelers, after other full-body scanners drew complaints for the quasi-naked images produced by the machine and viewed by TSA agents.
Travelers are now able to see the same image shown to TSA authorities, Davis said, and the picture cannot be stored, transmitted or printed. The image also is deleted after each person passes through.
Davis said most passengers opted into the scanner checks even before the software was installed to address privacy concerns, so she doesn’t foresee any problems with the new scanners in Manchester.
A security officer will ask the travelers to step into the machine, hold their hands over the head for a few seconds and step out on the other side to collect their belongings from the X-ray belt, Davis said. If an anomaly is detected, the officer will conduct a targeted pat-down to resolve the alarm, she said.
The new process is optional, she added, but if one opts out, he or she will still be subjected to walk through a metal detector and receive a pat-down.
The technology has been deployed to many of the country’s airports for the past two years, Davis said.
More than 500 units were shipped to airports last year, and another 500 are going out this year, she said.
The equipment is large and heavy and will take some time to set up, Davis said. Slight adjustments may be made to the security checkpoint area in the airport while the machines are installed, she said.
Training will begin for TSA agents once the machines arrive, Davis said. Each agent must complete about 20 hours of classroom training and eight hours of operational training before using the scanners.