Airport Screening Equipment Fails in Tenn.

A software glitch knocked out computerized X-ray machines at Nashville International Airport for five hours Friday, causing long lines and flight delays while officials searched bags by hand.

None of the Smiths Heimann X-ray detectors at the Nashville airport's two screening checkpoints was operating when security operations were scheduled to open for the day at 3:30 a.m., said David Beecroft, who oversees security operations at the airport for the Transportation Security Administration.

Officials believe the problem occurred when upgrades to the X-ray machine software were installed, TSA spokeswoman Laura Uselding said.

The same software is used in 450 commercial airports in the U.S., but no other airport reported similar problems, Uselding said.

Susan Cooper, director of marketing for Smiths Detection, a New Jersey-based division of Smiths Heimann, said TSA representatives contacted the company after the software glitch and told it to refer all questions to the TSA.

Lines of hundreds of passengers snaked outside the terminal and into the parking areas. About 9,000 to 11,000 people use the airport every day, but airport spokeswoman Lynne Lowrance said air traffic Friday was heavier than usual with families traveling for spring break.

Some people missed their flights. Other flights were delayed 45 minutes to an hour minutes to give people time to board.

"We did delay some of our flights out this morning in an effort to get as many people on their flights as possible," Marilee McInnis, spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines said.

Southwest is the Nashville airport's biggest carrier, and McInnis said the delays would affect flights in other cities Friday.

Penny Boyer was flying back home Philadelphia Friday. She heard about the delays on broadcast news reports and decided to get to Nashville's airport early.

"The screeners are working now, so I'm not concerned," she said. "Anytime you have computers, you have computer glitches."


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Loading