New security measures ready to go
The changes, overseen by the new Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, are a requirement to comply with a Congressional mandate after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The federal Aviation and Transportation Security Act mandates the administration screen all checked luggage for explosives by Dec. 31, as well as deploy federal passenger screeners to 429 commercial airports.
“The biggest change is that every bag going through the airport will be 100 percent checked for explosives,” said Mark Davidson, director of aviation at Eagle County Regional Airport.
Passenger and luggage screening procedures have been overhauled at the airport. The newest thing is that passengers will have to get their bags screened by TSA employees before checking in. To do that, 13 new Explosives Trace Detection machines, or ETDs, have been installed. The detectors work by collecting samples and detecting vapors and residues from explosives. Screeners will collect samples by using swabs to rub different areas of the bags, Davidson said.
The airport underwent some modification in front of the ticket counters and adjacent to the curb in front of the terminal.
“This means an extremely high level of security because there will be no explosive devices undetected through our passenger or luggage screening,” said Ray Krebs, federal security director in the Western Slope.
“The equipment we’re installing has an extremely high level of detection,” Krebs said. “These detectors could find explosives even on the fabric or the zipper of a suitcase.”
Before the new federal mandate, Davidson said, airport personnel usually matched passengers with bags. Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the TSA began doing random luggage checks and dogs screenings at some airports.
“If a passenger wasn’t in the plane, you took his bags out,” he said. “But you couldn’t detect for explosives.”
The airport underwent additional construction at the passenger-screening checkpoint to install new equipment and to improve the flow of passengers, Krebs said. Construction at the checkpoint included rotating the security checkpoints to an angled position to provide for more room and put in proper security equipment, adding a third lane, replacing two X-ray machines and adding a new one.
A screening workforce of 60 – up from 25 in the high season before the administration took over in November – will ensure quick passenger flow, Krebs said.
“Our standard is to have nobody waiting on the passenger screening line longer than 10 minutes,” he said.
All construction costs associated with the new checkpoints will be paid by the TSA. All equipment was purchased, installed and will be maintained by the administration.
“TSA has done a great job at the Eagle County airport,” Davidson said. “They understand that customer service here is as important as safety and security.”
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at email@example.com.