Published: Tuesday, 23 Oct 2012 | 2:28 PM ET
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By: Darren Booth
Special to

The Transportation Security Administration is removing full-body, X-ray scanners from major U.S. airports, and shipping them to less busy locations.

CNBC composite
X-ray machines, shown at left, are being swapped out for less invasive “Gumby” scanners at major airports across the country.

TSA introduced the so-called Backscatter scanners, sometimes referred to as the “naked” X-ray machines, at U.S. airports in 2009. Many travelers were not happy that naked images of themselves were displayed to TSA officers in a nearby room. In addition to privacy concerns, travelers were concerned about radiation exposure. (Read moreThe Skinny on Full-Body Scanners)

The replacement scanning machines offer less invasive, cartoon-like images of passengers. And you can even turn around after passing through the machine to see the same image TSA officer review. (Read moreLess Invasive, ‘Gumby’ Body Scanners to Debut at Boston Airport)


The full-body, X-ray scanners will be removed from New York’s Kennedy, LaGuardia and other major airports, the Associated Press reported. TSA said the decision was made to speed up security at busy airports.

TSA spokesperson Sterling Payne said in an email to that, “As part of an effort to maximize the efficiency and deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), TSA is strategically moving smaller, faster AIT units to busier airports and moving the larger units to airports with less passenger volume.”

“This move will add additional units outfitted with automated target recognition (ATR) software, which enhances privacy even more by providing a generic body outline, and eliminates the need for a separate officer in another to room to participate in screening,” Payne says.

The less invasive “Gumby” scanners with the ATR software will be in use at the following airports, the TSA confirms to

  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • New York’s LaGuardia Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Based on frequent flier reports on, the more invasive X-ray machines are still in use at some of the busiest U.S. airports, including:

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(CORRECTION: The X-ray machines are not in use at Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Las Vegas and San Francisco airports. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated they did.)


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