- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004


Hundreds of airline passengers faced delays yesterday afternoon when a security screener at Washington Dulles International Airport saw a suspicious image on an X-ray monitor.

The incident occurred about 4:40 p.m. when officials said the screener saw what appeared to be a gun in a bag on a monitor at the airport. It took about an hour to return passengers who were headed to the airport’s concourses to the main terminal and begin the re-screening process.

“The screeners were uncertain whether it was a test image on the screen or a bag with a firearm,” said Amy Von Walter, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration.

The federal agency, which oversees airport security nationwide, uses a computer program called Threat Image Projection — or TIP — to place images on the X-ray machine as an internal testing mechanism for baggage screeners, Miss Von Walter said.

“Out of an abundance of caution we decided to evacuate the terminal,” she said.

Mobile lounge shuttle buses that transport passengers to the concourses were returned to the main terminal. Passengers who were in the building but beyond the final screening point also were escorted back to the checkpoint.

“This matter has been turned over to the TSA,” said Tom Sullivan, a Dulles airport spokesman. TSA managers were expected to review the tapes to determine what had generated the image.

Under normal conditions, passenger screening waits during evenings average about 30 minutes at Dulles. The re-screening added significantly to the delays. Airport operations returned to normal at 5:43 p.m., airport officials said.

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