The Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday said it awarded contracts worth a total of $2.3 million to three companies to test their passenger screening systems at airport security checkpoints in Phoenix, Los Angeles and New York.
The technologies screen passengers without physical contact by showing an image of the body that detects weapons, explosives and other metallic and nonmetallic threats concealed under clothing, according to TSA.
The contracts were awarded to: X-ray inspection technology firm American Science & Engineering; military equipment company L-3 Communications Holdings Inc.; and electronics maker OSI Systems Inc.'s Rapiscan Systems subsidiary.
Each vendor will lease up to five of their systems to TSA for testing in airports for up to six months, and there are options to purchase additional units.
Backscatter technology, which is being provided by ASEI and Rapiscan, has been in place at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport since February, and passengers have been choosing it over a physical pat-down by a "wide margin," according to TSA.
The new contracts allow TSA to expand the backscatter testing, and to use millimeter wave technology from L-3 for the first time. A millimeter wave image looks like a fuzzy photo negative and is created when electromagnetic waves are reflected from the body, according to TSA.
For privacy reasons, the officer on the scene will not view the image and the officer who does "will be remotely located and unable to associate the image with the passenger being screened," according to TSA. The images also will not be stored, transmitted or printed.