O'Hare International Airport will receive full-body passenger scanners next year, perhaps as soon as the first quarter, Chicago's aviation commissioner said today.
"They are coming, but they're not here yet," said Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino during a press event Tuesday.
The scanners were planned well in advance of the unsuccessful Christmas Day bombing attempt on board a Detroit-bound plane.
"Because we do process and we do have a large volume of people that do come to O'Hare, we need to ensure that equipment does work properly, and in some cases, be a testing ground for equipment before it's fully implemented or, you know, all the procedures are well into place can be more challenging," Andolino said. "In this case, I think those will be issued here shortly and will be here. I think that the process is moving forward."
Not everyone is happy with the news. The American Civil Liberties Union say the machines are a classic invasion of privacy.
"It's an invasion," said ACLU Spokesman Ed Yonka. "It's very expensive and is a diversion of resources because someone dropped the ball on a trip from a legitimate person overseas."
Six of the machines, which are made by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., are being used for what Transportation Security Administration calls "primary screenings" at six U.S. airports: Albuquerque, N.M.; Las Vegas; Miami; San Francisco; Salt Lake City; and Tulsa, Okla.
This means passengers go through the scans instead of a metal detector, although they can elect to receive a pat-down search from a security officer instead.
The remainder of the machines are being used at 13 U.S. airports for secondary screening of passengers who set off a metal detector: Atlanta; Baltimore/Washington; Denver; Dallas/Fort Worth; Indianapolis; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Ronald Reagan Washington National; and Detroit. Travelers can opt for a pat-down instead in those instances as well.
The scanners headed to O'Hare will be set up initially in terminals served by United Airlines and American Airlines as well as in the international terminal, federal security officials have said in the past.
The TSA has paid for 150 of the new scanners and plan to deploy them nationwide after the first of the year.