Inside Look At Computed Tomography Tech Use By American Airlines

American Airlines Logo

First reported in mid June (News Digest), American Airlines is partnering with Analogic Corporation and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to use Computed Tomography (CT) technology at airports worldwide for scanning carry-on baggages.


American Airlines

American Airlines is the launch customer of Analogic’s ConneCT system designed for the aviation market.  The partnership with Analogic is not surprising given the company’s vast expertise in CT equipment technology from the introduction of the first single-slice system in 1975 to the multi-slice volumetric scanners used around the world today. The technology was developed for the medical field initially and transformed for use in the aviation world.

The CT checkpoint technology has successfully completed the TSA certification and qualification process and is able to provide an enhanced level of detection for aviation security officials. Specifically, the technology allows agents to identify potential threat items including those concealed within personal electronic devices (PEDs) for clearly.


How Does It Work?

The ConneCT system is on an open network architecture with three dimension (3D) imaging technology and automated threat detection functionalities included. The goal is to replace traditional two dimension (2D) x-ray imaging scanners currently in use at most of the world’s airports. While that technology allows agents to see the contents inside the carry-on baggages, the image (example shown below) is in a flat state and does not fully capture depth or layers. This forces agents to spend more time to review the contents and may require additional manual search.


Current 2D X-Ray Scans

Current 2D X-Ray Scans


With a 3D image, an agent can rotate a carry on baggage in multiple axis which improves the quality of review (shown below). Passengers are able to leave all allowable liquids, gels and aerosols and electronic devices (including laptops and tablets) in their carry-on bags during security checks. An experienced agent with proper training can easily check this image and identify the contents effectively. This will reduce overall review process time, manual search requirements and improve passenger throughput.


screening technology
3D Scanning Technology Trial Source: Analogic


“At American, we are always looking at ways to invest in technology that enhances global aviation security while improving the customer experience,” said Kerry Philipovitch, American Airlines Senior Vice President – Customer Experience. “We believe strongly in risk-based, intelligence-driven security protocols, which enable the aviation industry to identify, manage and mitigate risk. Our partnerships with the TSA and Analogic will transform aviation security by bringing state-of-the-art CT technology to the security checkpoint.”

“After a careful evaluation, American Airlines chose Analogic as its preferred supplier of Checkpoint CT based on several factors including image quality, airport-friendly design and ease of operation,” said Jim Ryan, Analogic senior vice president, security systems. “ConneCT is a culmination of ten years of checkpoint CT research and development and is positioned to be the innovative leader in the aviation security marketplace.”


Current Deployment

American Airlines collaborated with TSA and began trials of the CT technology at a checkpoint lane within Terminal 4 of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).


3D Computed Tomography (CT) Deployment

3D Computed Tomography (CT) Deployment       Source: American Airlines


Future Development

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CT technology is one way the aviation community, including foreign airports, can “raise the bar for aviation security globally.”  The ConneCT technology has entered the European Civil Aviation Conference certification protocol in Europe.

The technology is part of seamless travel initiatives TSA, DHS and airlines are working together improve security measures while improving overall passenger experience by using biometric technology at check in, security lanes and boarding. Other ongoing trials deployed this summer include:

Successful trials will likely lead to inclusion as part of the overall DHS security framework and deployment strategy as outlined in its enhanced security measures initiatives (Related News – New Enhanced Security Measures May Eliminate Laptop Bans?).