The San Francisco Airport Commission wants the Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution that authorizes the $19.3 million purchase of several explosive detection systems to improve the airport’s security.
The money is coming from the city, but will be reimbursed by the federal government.
Board president Supervisor Tom Ammiano said the resolution to spend the funds should take only a couple of weeks to approve. The airport has four CTX-9000 explosive detection systems in place now. These were purchased in May 2000, under a similar arrangement between the city and the federal government.
The new machines will be in place by the end of the year.
“It will take a minimum of six months to purchase and build, and then several more months to install, put on line and test,” said Ron Wilson, an airport spokesperson.
Unlike the existing Stage 1 x-ray machines, which scan like a two-dimension x-ray, the new machine will automatically evaluate each bag for the presence of explosives and provide a more detailed x-ray.
The machines comply with the increased security measures called for in the newly enacted Aviation and Transportation Security Act.
“The reimbursement agreement for eleven additional CTX systems at SFO will allow SFO to meet 100 percent of the screening needs of all airlines operating at the international terminal, both present and in the future,” according to a letter written November 29, 2001 by Airport Director, John L. Martin. “This will allow the Airport to utilize 100 percent three dimensional CTX scanning in the new terminal.”
San Francisco International Airport experienced a breach in security on Wednesday, January 30, when a rookie checkpoint screener’s mistake shut down the United’s terminal for approximately an hour and caused the evacuation of thousands of travelers. In that instance, an explosive trace detector was used to identify the presence of explosive materials, but due to lack of training, the screener failed to report the security breach quickly.
In theory, scenes like that will be rare once the new machines are installed, Wilson said. “By the time the machines are installed, security screening will be managed by the Federal government,” he wrote in an email responding to questions. “They will be responsible for the training and hiring of screening personnel.”