Scanners moved from rural to large airports

Scanners removed from small rural airports, such as those in Grand Junction and Montrose, should be replaced as soon as possible, Colorado’s senators wrote to the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA removed advanced scanners from Grand Junction Regional Airport in February and is to remove advanced scanners from Eagle County Airport in April, according to airport officials.

A scanner also was removed from Montrose Regional Airport.

“It’s slowed things down,” Grand Junction Regional Airport Director Rex Tippetts said of the loss of the scanners, which were moved to larger airports.

Eagle County Airport Aviation Director Greg Phillips said the TSA worked with him in scheduling removal of the scanners next month, once the airport’s ski flights come to an end.

The scanners at Eagle were installed in November.

“The fact is we have no idea when they might be replacing them,” Phillips said of the scanners. “It could be there’s a pretty good chance that they won’t be here next winter when we’ll need them.”

Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole to replace the scanners at rural airports as soon as possible.

“And we encourage you to accommodate airports throughout this process, so these changes do not impose any increased financial burden on already overstretched local budgets,” the senators’ letter said.

The TSA is moving to replace scanners at large airports with units that were put to use at smaller airports because the scanners at the smaller airports are newer and meet requirements that they display generic figures instead of X-ray depictions of passengers.

The TSA said on its blog that by June 2013, travelers will only see the approved machines.

“This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security,” the TSA said.

“We appreciate that TSA is operating under a tight timeline for replacing the problematic scanners in order to address the problem,” the senators wrote. “However, TSA’s actions are having a real impact on Colorado passengers and the regional airports working to serve them.”

TSA officials said they will consider how best to deploy approved scanners as they become available and that in the meantime, passengers will be screened using several layers of security.


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