It will cost about $1 billion to equip all airport checkpoint screening lanes with new checkpoint technologies such as next-generation baggage scanners and mechanized conveyance systems, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The agency on Jan. 23 will host an industry day at its Transportation Security Integration Facility in Northern Virginia to introduce its new checkpoint Accessible Property Screening (APS) program, which the agency says will become the long-term solution to enhanced detection capabilities, automated conveyance, and enable networking of checkpoint transportation security equipment. The $1 billion investment is for full operating capability of APS at all 2,400 of the TSA’s checkpoints, the agency said Dec. 26 on the federal government’s business opportunities website

Integrated Defense & Security Solutions’ DETECT 1000 computed tomography carry-on baggage scanner. Photo: IDSS

TSA soon expects to award a contract or contracts to begin purchasing computed tomography (CT) –based systems to screen carry-on bags at airport checkpoints. The new baggage scanners will replace Advanced Technology (AT) X-ray systems that have been used for more than a decade.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske in early December said his preference is to replace all AT systems with the CT technology. TSA is evaluating CT systems from four vendors—Analogic, Integrated Defense & Security Solutions (IDSS), L3 Technologies [LLL], and Smiths Detection—at 13 airports. The CT systems provide operators with better views of the contents of a bag and have the potential to automatically detect explosives packed inside electronic devices.

Joe Paresi, chairman and CEO of IDSS, told Defense Daily he thinks the $1 billion in expected APS investments only applies to the CT systems TSA plans to buy.

As part of the APS program, in 2018 TSA released an Accessible Property Screening Standard to industry. The new threat detection standard is aimed at improving the agency’s detection capabilities at checkpoints.

In addition to the CT systems, TSA is evaluating Automated Screening Lanes (ASLs) at more than 130 checkpoints at U.S. airports. The ASLs feature mechanized rollers for faster and more efficient processing of carry-on bags, multiple divestment stations for travelers, automated bin return systems, and automatic divert lanes to allow for secondary screening of suspect bags without having to put the bag through the scanner again.

In the case of the ASLs, airports and airlines have purchased the systems and donated them to TSA to expedite operational testing.

TSA said it will use an “incremental capability approach” to achieve full operating capability of APS at every checkpoint.

“This approach will track capability enhancement efforts in parallel to rapidly advance APS towards stronger detection capabilities and greater operational efficiency,” the agency said in the notice.