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Screener machine gains acceptance at Tulsa airport

BY D.R. STEWART - Tulsa World Modified: February 19, 2009 at 5:52 am •  Published: February 19, 2009
An airline passenger screening technology considered controversial by some civil libertarians when it was introduced last year has won widespread acceptance at Tulsa International Airport, officials say.

The airport’s second whole-body imaging machine was deployed without complaint Wednesday at the Transportation Security Administration’s passenger security checkpoints. In October, Tulsa International became the 11th airport in the nation to use the technology, which directs radio waves in a phone-booth-like machine across the passenger’s body.

Tulsa International is the first U.S. airport to have a WBI machine in operation for primary passenger screening, and the device could eventually replace metal detectors at TSA security checkpoints, agency executives said.

TSA Federal Security Director Stephen Cortright said the second machine is being used for primary screening, or the screening process used prior to travelers passing through a metal detector.

"People in Tulsa are used to it because we already had one (WBI machine),” Cortright said. The WBI regime is designed to augment metal detectors and baggage screening at security checkpoints.

Five other airports will be installing WBI units: San Francisco International Airport, Miami International Airport, Albuquerque International Airport, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport.