Posted: Feb 21, 2013 12:05 PM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News
HELENA - The Transportation Security Administration has unofficially informed the Helena Regional Airport that it plans to remove the latest full body scanner from the airport this week.
It is one of several across the country at small airports slated to be removed. The scanners will be transferred to larger airports to replace nude body image x-ray scanners. The scanner in Kalispell was removed on Wednesday.
The TSA has until June 1 to get rid of all of those scanners nationwide.
Helena airport director Ron Mercer is looking for ways to stop the removal.
"It seems there should be other things looked at, like extending the period of time to get more of these machines manufactured and put them into the larger airports. Some states haven't even heard about it. Some have heard rumors. I mean, it's the poorest orchestrated mess I have seen from somebody who is a 'partner' with us in aviation security that I've ever seen," Mercer said.
Mercer says the Helena Airport will still have its older model walk-through unit, but it will be accompanied by pat-downs.
The changes will also increase the length of passenger waiting lines at the checkpoint.
Helena Regional Airport spent $125,000 installing the new body scanner about a year ago.