Great Falls airport getting full body scanner
Transportation Security Administration agents will install a new full-body scanner Tuesday night at Great Falls International Airport that’s expected to be in use to clear passengers through security by Wednesday morning, airport officials said.
Great Falls Airport Director John Faulkner said the addition will allow TSA agents to use two independent lanes in checking passengers through security, with the new full-body scanner used for primary screening and the holdover metal detector helping with overflow traffic.
“Our terminal remodel cost $7 million and was predicated on receiving this machine and expanding our screening to two lanes,” Faulkner said. “The combination of equipment used in two lanes will provide better security checks and speed up the security clearance process.”
Under the current system, TSA agents had passengers pass through the single metal detector and had to pull out passengers who set it off, including people with artificial body implants, for embarrassing pat-down searches, he said.
The full-body scanner is capable of seeing joint replacements and other medical devices – or weapons for that matter – without the need for manual pat downs. That will speed up the operation and be less intrusive for passengers, Faulkner said. While the first body scanners gave TSA agents explicit views of the people being scanned, modern versions show the body as a cartoon, Gumby-like figure, he said.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., grilled TSA and Homeland Security leaders during congressional hearings last year, asking why smaller airports like Great Falls and Helena couldn’t get the full-body scanners they were initially promised.
Things not to carry through metal detector
• Key chains and key rings with keys
• Belt buckles
• A pocketful of change
• Big pieces of metallic jewelry
• A watch
• Metal framed sunglasses or glasses
Note: Passengers with metal rods or joint replacements in their body should consider traveling with a doctor’s note indicating this. Chances are they might still be checked with a security wand, but the process can be a little smoother with a doctor’s note.