HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration is removing its full-body scanners from airports in Kalispell and Helena this week to move them to larger airports, Montana airport officials said.
The move means a return to the older walk-through metal detectors and pat-downs in smaller airports that are losing their scanners, airport directors said.
"We're really disappointed that the TSA is removing them from our airport," Glacier Park International Airport Director Cindi Martin told The Daily Inter Lake.
"People had become comfortable with the scanner. It certainly did speed the process and removed the need for the enhanced pat-down," she said.
Martin and Helena Regional Airport Director Ron Mercer said Tuesday their airports' millimeter-wave machines are among those being removed to replace 174 full-body scanners being taken out of larger airports.
The low-dose X-ray units are being removed from the larger airports because Rapidscan, the company that makes them, was unable to meet a June 2013 congressional deadline for software upgrades to show screeners less-revealing images of passengers.
Martin said she expects her airport's scanner to be removed Wednesday afternoon, and Mercer said he's been told the Helena one will be removed Thursday.
Mercer issued a statement saying, "It is clear the TSA is trying to move very quickly with limited coordination to get as many of the machines removed before anything can be done to stop the process."
Mercer's statement also said Great Falls International Airport is in the midst of a remodeling project partially to accommodate a scanner it was promised, but will no longer receive.
Phone messages left Wednesday with Great Falls airport director John Faulkner and the TSA were not immediately returned.