- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2004


Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is the country’s first airport to test boarding passes for residue from explosives. A positive test would suggest the passenger had recently handled explosives.

The Transportation Security Administration began the pilot project this week.

Passengers selected for a secondary screening have their boarding passes tested while undergoing other checks, said Darrin Kayser, speaking for the agency. Security agents use a box a foot square with a swatch of fabric that picks up microscopic samples.

“There is really no further delay for them as long as it is a negative match,” Mr. Kayser said. The explosives scanner takes seconds to register a reading.

The agency recently tested the scanners as part of a rail inspection project in Connecticut. Mr. Kayser said the equipment is not being used routinely on the rail system, but can be if intelligence alerts authorities to a threat.

The scanner can screen paper boarding passes and plastic IDs such as driver’s licenses for numerous explosives.

Airports in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are to join the tests in a few weeks, with 10 more airports added in the budget year that starts next month.

Reagan Airport was the last major U.S. airport to reopen after the September 11 terrorist attacks. It remains closed to private planes.

Last week, Reagan joined four other airports participating in a registered traveler program. Passengers who fly at least once a week on American Airlines can register, undergo a background check and provide fingerprints and iris scans.

In exchange, passengers advance to their flights in a separate security line after passing through a kiosk to verify their identification. Secondary screenings for these passengers will be largely eliminated, according to officials.

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