New body scanning technology comes to MB International Airport

Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, new passenger screening technology has arrived at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

The airport unveiled new body scanning machines Tuesday that are designed to eliminate one of passengers' biggest objections to the earlier scanners.

Andrew Curtis, who flew back to New York Tuesday after visiting family in South Carolina, was aware that the screening process would now include full body scanners in Myrtle Beach and that was fine with him.

"It's quicker than the personal one-to-one pat downs and all of that stuff," Curtis said. "They get a quick instant image of what they're dealing with and you can just mosey on your way."

Myrtle Beach International is one of 29 airports nationwide to receive the latest Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners.

Officials with the Transportation Security Administration officials said several factors were considered, like airport readiness and passenger load, to determine which airports would get the machines.

Spokesman Jon Allen said the devices will soon become familiar to most travelers.

"They'll be more and more likely to encounter this type of technology, not just at Atlanta or Dallas or O'Hare (in Chicago) or other places, but they'll start to see this at additional airports," Allen said.

He said the software has been updated on the new AIT system, so that the most controversial part of the earlier body scanners - the ones that showed a specific outline of a passenger's body on a monitor - has been corrected.

"A generic human outline will appear on the monitor and a yellow box will highlight the area of the body that needs to be looked at more closely," Allen said.

One important advantage of the body imaging technology over traditional metal detectors is that they can detect non-metallic items that can be hidden under clothing.

"We know that the single greatest threat to aviation security is the improvised explosive device and that could well be a device that would consist of non-metallic parts," Allen said.

It takes about 3 to 5 seconds to screen each passenger, Allen said, which is not enough to have a negative impact on passenger wait times.

He said passengers can opt out of using the scanner, if it makes them feel uncomfortable, but the alternative is a thorough pat-down, so 99 percent of passengers choose to use the machines.

Two of the new body scanners have been deployed in Myrtle Beach. TSA has purchased 300 of the new units to be deployed at airports around the country in coming months.