Looking to eliminate shoes as an airline security problem

One of the more shall we say unsatisfying tasks one must do to get on a commercial airline these days is to remove one’s  shoes.  The Department of Homeland Security is looking yet again for vendors to submit Shoe Screener systems for a government- conducted laboratory assessment.   Specifically the Transportation Security Administration  (TSA) is interested in a system capable of detecting a wide variety of military, commercial and home made explosives that may be concealed in commercially available shoes (or any type of foot-wear).   The system should be capable of detecting explosives, either concealed in shoes or traces of explosives on passenger shoes or legs to a height of 18 inches from the floor without the passenger having to remove their shoes.     TSA is looking to test the systems in a commercial airport sometime later this year.  TSA has approved GE’s shoe scanning system in the past but only deployed it one location – Orlando and it was part of a Registered Traveler program designed to speed travelers through airport screenings – for a price. Registered-traveler programs currently operate at nine U.S. airports, including New York's JFK, Orlando, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Reno and Newark, N.J. The price of a one-year membership is $99.95, which includes a $28 vetting fee charged by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. In Orlando, the GE  shoe scanner is part of a kiosk that lets passengers step onto a platform with hip-level walls and enter identifying information on the touch screen. Meanwhile, their shoes are scanned for bombs from below, and residue from their fingers is analyzed to detect trace amounts of explosive material.  In 2006, the Homeland Security Department made it mandatory to have travelers to remove their shoes before entering the X-ray machines.  Prior to that customers were “encouraged” but  not required to do so. There are vendors who have touted a shoe screening system, GE’s Security for  one, Smiths Detection another. The flow of passengers through airports has been a point of contention with travelers and lawmakers, and Congress has repeatedly pressed TSA to develop more efficient technology to speed up passenger and baggage screening. TSA began inspecting passengers' shoes after terrorist Richard Reid, also known as the "Shoe Bomber," attempted in 2001 to blow up an airplane by lighting a bomb concealed in his shoe.

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