Feds to install full-body scanner in Aspen airport | AspenTimes.com

Feds to install full-body scanner in Aspen airport

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is one of the few remaining commercial airports in the country without a full-body scanner, used by security personnel to screen passengers before they board airplanes. That will change this spring.

The Transportation Security Administration is expected to install what’s officially known as an AIT machine – the acronym stands for “advanced imaging technology” – in April or May, according to Jim Elwood, the airport’s director of aviation.

New software, however, has made the machines less intrusive than the first iteration of full-body scanners introduced at airports across the country, according to Elwood. Rather than a detailed anatomical image, the latest generation of the machines produce an outline of the passenger passing through it.

“It in essence is just an outline of a stick figure,” Elwood said. But, if there’s a piece of paper in the stick figure’s pocket, it will appear to the security screeners.

Travelers boarding a commercial flight at the Aspen airport will need to divest themselves of everything but their clothing before they pass through the AIT machine, which is designed to detect not only metal objects – firearms, for example – but everything else, from plastic explosives to something as innocuous as a boarding pass.

“This technology is now designed to see anything that is part of your person that shouldn’t be part of your person,” Elwood said.

The TSA will retain the existing scanning equipment at the airport, through which carry-on luggage and bins containing shoes and other items are currently scanned. At busy times, passengers may be randomly sent to one scanning station versus another, Elwood said.

Other improvements at the airport will get under way this spring, as well. The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the airport a $1.9 million grant to construct an additional connector between the taxiway and the runway, relocate aircraft deicing operations and make drainage improvements west of the runway. To help pay for the projects, the airport has applied for a $1.2 million Colorado Aeronautics discretionary grant and anticipates further federal funding, according to Elwood.


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