EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — By the end of the month, Atlantic City International Airport will upgrade its security screening equipment from the current metal detectors to full-body scanners.
Redesigned and newly added screening areas included in the upgrade will allow the airport to accommodate more passengers and ensure that passengers move more quickly through the screening process.
Slightly fewer than 1.4 million passengers for scheduled and charter service passed through the airport in 2011. That number of passengers hovers around the maximum amount the airport can accommodate. Even so, security lines can stretch out into hallways at prime travel times, said Sam Donelson, deputy executive director of the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the airport.
“Everything we do is with an eye towards the future,” Donelson said. “This is the latest and greatest technology for passenger screening.”
Currently, passengers allow their carry-on bags to be scanned and then walk through metal detectors, but those devices don’t flag nonmetal weapons. Advanced imaging technology used in full-body scanners can alert Transportation Security Administration employees to nonmetal weapons, explosives and other devices banned from planes.
The authority has spent about $1.1 million to upgrade the facility in the six-month project. That figure doesn’t include the price of the body scanners, which are supplied by TSA and were first rolled out in 2010. The authority has paid to convert an area on the first floor that had included a conference room and storage facilities into a new screening area. That area now includes two lanes for luggage screens and one full-body scanner.
After the area becomes operational later this month, the current adjacent screening area will be shut down. That area will then be fitted with an additional scanner and will accommodate three lanes.
“When we’re done, we’ll be able to have five lanes screening passengers at the same time if we need it. Hopefully, we will,” SJTA spokesman Kevin Rehmann said.
The scanner in the new screening area looks like an upright tube. Passengers will walk through the center with arms raised over their heads. An image will then appear on a monitor staffed by TSA indicating any potential problems.
The airport is also undergoing a separate $25 million expansion project set to debut in May or June that will increase the number of gates at the airport from seven to 10. The project also includes a larger baggage-claim area and an international flight processing center.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan