Hand-held scanners could replace airport pat-downs

Jeff Chiu/AP file photo

TSA is expected to release a request for proposals in early June.

The Department of Homeland Security wants to roll out hand-held scanning devices that could detect explosives on air travelers in an attempt to replace unpopular airport pat-downs, solicitation documents reveal.

The Transportation Security Administration has come under fire from privacy advocates for pat-down procedures and full-body scanners, measures that have been criticized as intrusive. Homeland Security is hoping that a handheld detection system will limit the number of “directed, and sometimes sensitive, area pat downs,” the notice reads.

The tool should provide “highly sensitive and broad threat detection capability” and pick up on the presence of explosives and metal, according to the document. The notice did not stipulate how the scanned data would be stored.

A call for white papers went live on April 18 and a request for proposals is expected to be released June 6. Awards will be announced in August. Testing of the devices could be completed as soon as a year after they are developed, the documents indicate.

(Hat tip: @Jackie_Singh)