Schumer announces long-sought 'explosive detection system' for baggage screening at Ithaca-Tompkins Airport

By WBNG News

Schumer announces long-sought 'explosive detection system' for baggage screening at Ithaca-Tompkins Airport

January 22, 2014 Updated Jan 22, 2014 at 4:54 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Wednesday, at the Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer was joined airport officials and local leaders to unveil that the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (ITH) will receive a long-awaited, high-technology baggage screening system, to replace the current manual bag-check system.

According to a news release:

Schumer said that he personally urged the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide this critical airport equipment – called an Explosive Detection System (EDS) – to ITH, following a new commitment for federal EDS funding in the appropriations bill. Schumer today said that the TSA has heeded his call and will be installing an EDS in the coming weeks.

Schumer said that this equipment will save the airport valuable time and money, improve customer experience and safety, and boost the flow of travelers through the airport. Schumer said that this upgrade has been long sought after by the airport, will make the airport more advanced and efficient, and will help attract more travelers and economic activity to the Ithaca area. As the screening system exists now, travelers are often unhappy with the invasive nature of the baggage screening, which can leave business clothes wrinkled and other items in disarray. And while the current, manual screening process is thorough, there is always room for improvements thanks to advances in technology. Schumer said that this critical upgrade will help the Ithaca-Thompkins Airport compete with other medium-sized airports in its security category and bring more visitors to the airport.

“At long last, the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport will have the state-of-the-art baggage screening technology that it needs in order to better serve existing travelers and to attract new ones to the Ithaca area,” said Senator Schumer. “It is clear that Ithaca Airport had been stuck in a holding pattern with manual baggage screening as it waited for the TSA to provide an Explosive Detection System, which is why I went to bat for the airport to get one of these automated screening devices as soon as the TSA received new funding in the recent appropriations bill. With this new airport screener, the airport and its terminal will function more efficiently, business travelers, students and local residents will be more likely to utilize the airport on a repeated basis, and safety and security will be greatly improved upon. I am pleased to have helped bring the Ithaca-Tompkins Airport up to speed with other airports of its size and security level: it will mean great things for the region.”

Schumer was joined by Robert Nicholas, Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport Manager; Jean McPheeters, President Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce; Joe Mareane, Tompkins County Administrator; members of the Tompkins County Air Service Board and local elected officials.

Last week, the Senate and House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations bill, which included $372.3 million in funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to acquire and install EDS machines in airports across the country, like the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport. Therefore, following the announcement of this committed pot of federal funding, Schumer directly appealed to the TSA urging that they provide one of these critical security scanners at ITH  - a technology that they have long needed in order to keep pace with other similar size and security level airports. Schumer today announced that ITH will be one of the airports to receive these scanners, which is great news given the demand across the country.

Schumer noted the importance of these devices as they relate to customer experience, the efficient flow of travelers through the airport, the safety of flyers and TSA agents alike, and the subsequent boost in activity and business to the Ithaca area.

Since the advent of the TSA, screening of checked baggage at Ithaca has been done using Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) equipment, which is a way of manually searching baggage for explosive devices and substances. While this was originally done on a random basis, in recent years with tighter airport security, the TSA at Ithaca must manually inspect each bag’s full contents. This process is as tedious and inefficient for the Ithaca airport and its TSA staff, as it is displeasing to travelers whose clothing and other items are impacted.

The Ithaca Tompkins Airport is a gateway to the Ithaca area, its businesses, its universities and its tourist attractions, and such an invasive and labor-intensive baggage screening process has long proven a deterrent to repeat visitors and business travelers alike. Schumer said that the arrival of this new Explosive Detection System, will mean an efficient, automated and hands-off way to check baggage, which is a win for all parties involved. It will mean that finally the baggage screening system at ITH will match the highly efficient terminal and airline passengers that the area hopes to have.

Schumer also noted that while the current manual screening system has proven thorough, the newer, higher-tech ESD can only improve safety and security at the airport. Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is one of the few Security Category III airports that still deal with the manual screening of baggage, and with today’s news, the technology will bring ITH in line with other airports of its size and security.

Schumer said that the EDS, automated screening system will arrive at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport and TSA agents will be trained to use it within the next 6 weeks.

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