Business & Tech

TSA to test CT scanning at Logan to keep laptops in carry-ons

The Transportation Security Administration will test a new scanning device at Logan International Airport later this month that will give officials a more detailed view inside passengers’ carry-on luggage.

CT scanners are better than existing X-ray devices at detecting explosives, meaning that at some point they could enable passengers to leave laptops, other electronics, and possibly even liquids in their bags, vastly simplifying airport security.

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“The new CT screening equipment shoots hundreds of images with an X-ray camera that spins around the conveyor belt to provide officers with a 3D picture of a carry-on bag to ensure it does not contain a threat,” TSA said in a statement.

The new scanning system is “a reduced-size version of the current scanners used for checked baggage,” according to TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy. The system is being installed at Terminal E, where the tests will occur.

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A similar pilot test began Thursday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Phoenix test is being conducted as a partnership between TSA and American Airlines, but the Boston test does not involve American, McCarthy said.

The Boston pilot will take place by the end of the month, McCarthy said. Passengers may be asked to volunteer for the checks.

The experiment comes as the US Department of Homeland Security considers whether to expand a ban on electronic devices in airliner cabins that began on some international routes in March.

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A widespread rollout could take some time. Following previous failed introductions of new equipment, the Transportation Security Administration requires many layers of tests. Also, Congress hasn’t appropriated funds for large purchases of new devices, which cost several hundred thousand dollars apiece and would require $1 billion or more to install at thousands of security lines in the United States.

The March ban, covering flights from 10 Middle East and North Africa airports to the United States, followed concern that terrorists had devised ways to hide explosives in laptops or other electronic devices larger than a mobile phone. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security has considered expanding the ban to Europe.

Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro. Material from Bloomberg News was used in this report.
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