Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer have called on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop and implement an efficient and timely plan for replacing the full-body passenger scanning machines while ensuring passenger safety at airports in Bismarck, Minot and Grand Forks.
The delegation made the request in a letter sent to TSA Administrator John Pistole who is overseeing the removal of the full-body passenger scanning machines from a series of Category III airports, including three of North Dakota's largest airports. TSA is removing these machines in compliance with the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (P.L. 112-95) which requires the agency to ensure scanning machines meet concerns regarding passenger privacy.
"While we appreciate TSA's compliance with the law, we are concerned the execution of this provision leaves North Dakota airports lacking in essential security equipment," the delegation wrote. "In order to preserve the integrity of aviation security, we urge you and your staff to work with our airport managers so that passenger safety and security continues to be highest priority."
The delegation called on TSA to improve communication with North Dakota airport managers and to develop a clear plan and timeline regarding when scanning machines will be removed and when replacement scanners will be installed, emphasizing the need to ensure passenger safety and maintain airport security.
North Dakota's airports have seen tremendous growth during the past decade. In 2012, the Bismarck, Minot and Grand Forks airports saw boarding increases of 20 percent, 49 percent and 16 percent respectively.