Federal officials said Tuesday that they are expanding tests to speed up airport lines and improve security.
In a first in the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday that it plans to begin using computed-tomography or CT scanners to inspect carry-on bags at one checkpoint in the Phoenix airport by the end of the year.
CT scanners are already used to screen checked baggage. The process is mostly automated -- the scanners generate 3-D images that are analyzed by computers. Security workers only check a bag if something is suspicious.
The use of CT technology at airport checkpoints would eliminate the need for screeners to examine X-ray images of every bag.
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TSA said it will work with American Airlines to make other changes to speed up screening this fall in Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.
The tests at those four airports mirror a pilot program that TSA is running with Delta Air Lines in two lanes at the Atlanta airport. There, suspicious bags can be sent to a separate area for more screening while other bags on the conveyer belt keep moving. Bins are automatically sent back to the head of the line, and they are given radio-frequency-identification tags for better tracking.
The agency said the scanners and other steps will cut the time travelers spend in line by about 30 percent. Long checkpoint lines have become a nuisance for travelers. Security experts warn that the long lines create targets for terrorists that are outside security checkpoints.