updated 8/10/2007 6:24:13 PM ET 2007-08-10T22:24:13

Authorities have stopped searching for a man who bypassed security screening Friday at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and officials said he may have simply walked out of the airport.

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The man slipped past screeners shortly before 8 a.m., a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said. Officials searched about 15 planes on the ground and shut down a concourse without finding him, spokesman Jon Allen said.

When he couldn’t be located in Charlotte, officials turned their attention to 15 flights that had left the airport, said TSA spokesman Chris White. Passengers on those planes were screened or escorted out of the airport’s secure areas.

White said Friday afternoon that the TSA is no longer searching for the man and speculated he may have walked out of the Charlotte airport, though authorities don’t know whether there was malicious intent.

“We will look into how this incident occurred and what we can do to ensure that it does not happen again,” White said.

Flights were delayed for about an hour, said Kathleen Bergen, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman in Atlanta. Some planes were held on the tarmac but later cleared to leave, while others were directed to return to the gate, she said.

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