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Homeland Security

Explosive Detection Systems (EDS)

Through partnerships with industry, TSA has deployed the latest technology to detect weapons and explosives in a variety of transportation environments. Some of what TSA is working on includes:

Explosive Trace Portals - TSA has purchsed explosive trace portals from GE Infrastructure, Security and Smiths Detection. TSA was testing these portals, also known as "puffer" machines in several airports. As of 2005, the machines were located at airports in Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport; Baltimore; Boston; Gulfport, Miss.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Newark; New York (JFK); Phoenix; Providence, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; San Francisco; San Diego; and Tampa, Fla. By the end of 2005, TSA planned on having additional machines at Charlotte, N.C.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; New York (LaGuardia); Palm Beach, Fla.; Pittsburgh; San Juan, P.R., and Washington, D.C. (both Dulles and Reagan National).

At security checkpoints, passengers walk through portals similar to the walk-through metal detectors. Puffs of air are blown at passengers, and samples are then collected and analyzed for explosives. If the portal's alarm sounds, the passenger and his/her property are subject to additional screening. Once cleared, the passenger is free to continue boarding.

Document Scanner - In September 2004, in a significant technology advancement, the TSA announced the deployment at three major airports of a new Explosives Trace Detection Document Scanner that can "sniff" passenger documents such as boarding passes and drivers' licenses for traces of explosives. The airports are Los Angeles International (LAX), New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) and Chicago's O'Hare International (ORD). The pilot program was first unveiled a few weeks prior to the announcement of its expansion at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Tests will be conducted for a minimum of 30 days at each airport.

The Document Scanner analyzes samples collected by swiping the surface of a document over a collection disc and alerts the screener if explosives residue is detected. During the pilot, passengers selected for secondary screening at particular checkpoints will have their boarding passes scanned. If the Document Scanner alarms, additional screening procedures will be implemented.

EDS/ETD - Explosive Detection System (EDS) machines work like the MRI machines in a doctor's office. Through a sophisticated analysis of each checked bag, the EDS machines can quickly determine if a bag contains a potential threat or not. If a weapon or explosive is detected, the machines alert our security officers so they can manage the bag appropriately.  In some cases, the alarm is quickly resolved and in others law enforcement and the bomb squad may be called in.

In 2005, TSA announced the GE InVision Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract. It had a three-year ordering period for EDS machines, spare parts and related engineering services. These new EDS machines from GE will allow TSA to remove large EDS machines from terminal lobbies and install them into the behind-the-scenes baggage handling conveyor system.  This high-tech permanent solution will increase the efficiency of screening all checked baggage for explosives and add a customer service benefit by allowing passengers to drop off their checked baggage at the ticket counter instead of bringing their bags to a separate lobby area for screening. 

Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) equipment is much smaller than EDS - about the size of large suitcase. Screeners working with the portable ETD use a swab on a piece of luggage; the swab is then analyzed for traces of explosives.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:50:59 ZULU