Bomb Attempt Fuels Calls For Airport Body Scanners

12.29.09 | FL News Team

The Christmas day bombing attempt aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 is fueling calls to install new body-scanning equipment in the nation's airports. The plastic explosives reportedly used by alleged would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [[ ahb-dul-moo-TAH-lob ]] were not detected when he boarded the Detroit-bound plane in Amsterdam. "USA Today" reports industry officials are now urging the Transportation Security Administration to speed up the installation of full-body scanners that can detect plastic and other substances hidden on a person's body. So far, 19 U.S. airports are equipped with scanners, which take up to 30 seconds to complete a full scan. However, TSA is testing a new design made by Smiths Detection that can do it in a fraction of the time. A spokesperson for the company said the scanners could start showing up in American airports as early as next year.

 The TSA reportedly plans to install 150 of the devices in airports in 2010. It plans to purchase another 300 before the end of next year. European airports are also expected to install more body scanners, which are already in place in the Amsterdam airport but are reportedly not used for U.S.-bound flights. Wide use of the scanners is opposed by some American lawmakers and groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, who call them overly invasive. President Obama has ordered a full review of airport security measures.