New machines at TSA checkpoints could (finally) let passengers leave liquids and laptops in their bags

May 1, 2021

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The TSA is working to develop a next-generation screening system that could finally let passengers leave liquids in bags at security screening checkpoints. But it could be years or even a decade before these systems are actually introduced to the public.

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The agency has had a long-running contract competition for new baggage screening machines, known as the Checkpoint Property Screening System (CPSS). As first reported by Bloomberg Government, the TSA updated two requests for proposal (RFP) for a new security system in April, suggesting the agency is continuing to move ahead with its efforts to launch the program.

According to the RFPs and amendments, reviewed by TPG, the agency is looking to replace the current X-ray bag scanning machines with machines that use Computed Tomography (CT) scanning, which would allow screeners to see and manipulate a 3-D image of a bag’s contents.

Bringing CT scanning to security screening lines would mean that passengers could leave liquids and other electronics in their luggage, the TSA says, because screeners could manipulate the image to see around, under, and behind those items. With the current x-ray system, the 2-D image that is produced can be obscured by liquids and other things.

CT imaging is already used to inspect checked luggage and is used for medical purposes.

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The use of the new machines would begin gradually; according to Bloomberg, only 15 systems would be put into place initially, although the TSA could order up to 410 more depending on how successful the implementation is.

Featured image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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