Local News

Airport security takes on a 'new look' at RDU

Posted October 15, 2008 1:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 16, 2008 10:30 a.m. EDT

— Raleigh-Durham International Airport officials showed off Wednesday a new no-touch passenger security checkpoint system in the new Terminal 2 that will be an alternative to the much more familiar pat down – and another line of defense after the metal detector.

The $177,000 Whole Body Imager uses millimeter wave technology that projects beams of radio frequencies over the body's surface and constructs a three-dimensional image of the body, without clothing, displayed on a remote monitor.

Michael Zunk, the TSA director at RDU, says the technology a significant step in checkpoint security.

"It's very accurate about identifying weapons, machine explosives – any type of explosives – because it shows up in an area as to where as to where you would have it – whether it is the waist, hip, ankle, back shoulders – wherever it is," Zunk said.

This technology is used at only 11 other airports in the United States and a few around the world, partly because of privacy concerns.

Transportation Security Administration officials, however, say officers in remote locations from the scanners view the images, which are automatically deleted after use. And because faces are concealed, a person's identity is never known.

Airport officials say they expect to install another system in the terminal by 2010.

The $570 million Terminal 2 is expected to open to travelers on Oct. 26 and will open in two phases, with the second phase scheduled to open in 2011.

It replaces Terminal C, which was built in 1987 as a hub for American Airlines.

The north concourse of the terminal will feature 19 gates, seven security checkpoint lanes and 26 shops and restaurants in 550,000 square feet. The south concourse will add 13 gates, another seven security lanes and 17 more retailers.

Some of the merchants expected in the new terminal are 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Carolina Ale House, A Southern Season, Brooks Brothers and Apple iPod.

American, American Eagle, Delta, United, Midwest Connect and Air Canada will initially fly out of the terminal. Continental, Northwest and US Airways will move to Terminal 2 when the south concourse opens.