Passengers departing from New York’s JFK this summer may find security checkpoints move surprisingly fast, at least in one lane of Terminal 8. 

This week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in partnership with American Airlines, announced plans to test computed tomography (CT) scanners at New York’s largest airport.

CT technology isn’t entirely new to the TSA. Checked baggage has been screened this way for years, and you’ve probably noticed these roped off contraptions to the side of the check-in area. Until recently, Airport CT machinery has been far too bulky, not to mention expensive, for installation elsewhere in the airport.

With advances in technology, CT devices have become less clunky and easier to handle. Testing began last summer at Boston Logan’s Terminal E and Phoenix Sky Harbor’s Terminal 4 and, so far, results have been positive.

Unlike the 2D X-ray devices used at most TSA checkpoints today, CT scans provide screeners with 3D imagery of bag contents, along with the ability to rotate and inspect items without having to physically remove them. Algorithms detect explosives, firearms, and any other banned items that might be packed inside. 

“Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA's threat detection capability at a checkpoint.” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “This partnership will allow us to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.”

If CT testing proves successful, passengers could breeze through security with laptops, liquids, gels, and aerosols packed away.

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