McCarran Airport unveils new security technology

LAS the only airport in the country using the "Innovation Checkpoint"
The Innovation Checkpoint debuts at McCarran International Airport on June 7th, 2021
McCarran Airport Photo credit McCarran Airport

Las Vegas, NV (KXNT) - The Transportation Security Administration in partnership with McCarran International Airport unveiled the official reopening of the Innovation Checkpoint, which features the latest upgrades in aviation security technologies to improve security and the passenger screening experience.

TSA developed the Innovation Checkpoint in 2019 to evaluate emerging security technologies in a side-by-side, live checkpoint environment. Managed by TSA’s Innovation Task Force, the data collected from Innovation Checkpoint operations are used to develop requirements for future investment in technologies that enhance TSA’s security effectiveness, streamline checkpoint operations and ultimately improve the passenger screening experience at airports nationwide.

The new checkpoint is the only one in the country where TSA has installed four Automated Screening Lanes (ASLs) integrated with four Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, allowing for uninterrupted movement of carry-on luggage through the screening process.

System configurations allow TSA officers to simultaneously review multiple 3-D, X-ray images produced by the CT unit through an RFID tracking system. Another configuration being tested features a sensor that is designed to prevent the backup of bins entering the ASL.

For special screening circumstances, TSA officers can opt to use an ASL bin with a unique RFID code. The CT unit is designed to recognize the unique code and automatically diverts the bag for follow-up screening.

The TSA is also testing an integrated UV-C light sanitization system, which is designed to disinfect the interior and exterior of bins as they are repopulated through the ASL’s automated bin return system. Bins pass through an enclosed, metal box where they are exposed to a high-dose of UV-C light that has been proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses including the COVID-19 virus. TSA worked closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate and determined that the systems are safe for operational use in the checkpoint environment.

Dynamic digital signage totems that display eye-catching and relevant information on screening procedures greet travelers at the entrance to the Innovation Checkpoint. There is no limit to the number of messages that can be displayed and messaging can be updated in real-time via a tablet on-site to reflect current operational conditions in the security checkpoint.

Travelers will see Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units that are used to scan a traveler’s photo identification, verify the authenticity of the credential and confirm flight status by comparing it against the Secure Flight database through an electronic connection. To reduce potential touchpoints between travelers and TSA officer, the units are oriented so travelers are able to insert their own photo identification. With CAT, travelers no longer need to present their boarding pass to the TSA officer.

The Innovation Checkpoint also features the next generation body scanner. Referred to as enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology (eAIT), the scanner features an open design that screens travelers with their arms at their side instead of having to lift them over their head. Prior to the scan, the TSA officer receives an on-screen prompt if the traveler is improperly positioned. This allows the TSA officer to provide corrective feedback to the traveler prior to the screening. The eAIT, which has updated algorithms to increase detection accuracy during passenger screening, uses millimeter wave technology and does not produce an X-ray image.

TSA screened the first passengers through the Innovation Checkpoint in late summer 2019. The checkpoint was closed during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but has reopened with upgraded technologies to coincide with the significant growth in commercial air travel.