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Airports on alert after security glitch in Tenn.

A software glitch knocked out the computerized X-ray machines at Nashville International Airport for five hours Friday, delaying travelers.
Enjoli Barner, right, of Nashville, walks to the end of the security check line outside Nashville, Tenn., International Airport on Friday.John Russell / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A software glitch knocked out the computerized X-ray machines at Nashville International Airport for five hours Friday, causing long lines and flight delays.

Whether the same problem could affect other airports wasn’t immediately clear.

David Beecroft, who oversees security operations at Nashville for the federal Transportation Security Administration, said all U.S. international airports were alerted because the company that supplies the software for the Smiths Heimann X-ray detectors also serves several other airports.

But TSA spokeswoman Laura Uselding later said other airports were not notified because the situation in Nashville was an isolated event. The discrepancy could not be immediately resolved.

Susan Cooper, director of marketing for Smiths Detection, the New Jersey-based division of Smiths Heimann, said TSA representatives contacted them after the software glitch and told them to refer all questions to the TSA.

No X-ray machines working
None of the X-ray machines at the Nashville airport’s two screening checkpoints were operating when security operations were scheduled to open for the day at 3:30 a.m., Beecroft said.

TSA employees searched bags by hand to screen passengers in Nashville while the system was down.

Lines of hundreds of passengers snaked outside the terminal and into the parking areas because of the delays. About 9,000 to 11,000 people use the airport every day, but airport spokeswoman Lynne Lowrance said air traffic Friday was expected to be heavier than usual with families traveling for spring break.

Many people were missing flights because some planes waited only 15-20 minutes before leaving the gate, Lowrance said.

“We did delay some of our flights out this morning in an effort to get as many people on their flights as possible. Some flights left as much as 45 minutes late,” Marilee McInnis, spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines said.

Southwest is the Nashville airport’s biggest carrier, and McInnis said the delays would affect flights in other cities Friday.

American Airlines reported flight delays of 26 minutes to an hour for four flights, spokesman Tim Wagner said.