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Las Vegas airport to test machines to detect explosives

As Las Vegas’ airport continues to see record-breaking passenger traffic, keeping those travelers safe is a top priority.

McCarran International Airport is set to test four explosive detection machines at the Terminal 3 security checkpoint, county Director of Aviation Rosemary Vassiliadis said last month during her presentation to the Assembly Committee on Infrastructure and Growth.

The project, touted as the “checkpoint of the future” by Vassiliadis, will be a joint effort between McCarran and the Transportation Security Administration.

“A separate checkpoint set up in Terminal 3, in a separate little area,” Vassiliadis said. “We’re going to open that up to the public and be able to determine together as a partnership, the airport and the TSA, what’s going to work the best, so we have the best and highest security at the airport.”

Additional information on the planned explosive detection machines was not available, according to McCarran officials. TSA representatives are expected to demonstrate the explosive detection devices to media ahead of their implementation at the airport, officials said.

The machines will be installed at McCarran as part of being designated a TSA Innovation Task Force site.

The TSA tests out the latest in technological advances at designated airports, gathering data and feedback on whether the technology is something it wants to use at airports nationwide.

One of the first big projects carried out through the TSA innovation initiative at McCarran was the installation of automated screening lanes.

The automated lanes are installed in three of the four TSA checkpoints in McCarran and were first installed in 2017. There are currently 18 automated screening lanes in use at McCarran, with six in Terminal 3, six at the C Annex and six at the C and D gate checkpoint.

Automated screening lanes can process passengers 20 percent to 30 percent faster than the traditional method used at most airports, according to McCarran officials.

McCarran ranked as the ninth busiest airport in the U.S. by volume last year, seeing a record 49.7 million travelers pass through its gates in 2018, so every second matters for moving passengers through its gates. The new lanes, the use of passenger screening canines and other projects are important to simplifying the airport experience.

“All of that helps the operation and makes it a little more seamless,” Vassiliadis said.

At last week’s Clark County Commission meeting, $3.04 million was approved to go toward the installation of six more automated lanes. That cost covers the screening units, hardware installation, labor and infrastructure.

Those automated screening lanes will be installed at the A and B gate checkpoint as part of a larger renovation project in the area, according to Christine Crews, McCarran spokeswoman.

“The installation of those lanes is part of a bigger renovation/expansion of the A/B checkpoint, so that process will take longer than the 6-10 weeks needed for the previous phases at other locations,” Crews said. “The estimated completion for the overall A/B checkpoint project is mid-summer.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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