TSA: Out with the puffers!

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05/26/2009
Not that I find this remotely surprising, but those puffer machines some of us have had to stand in at airports are no longer. Does this have anything to do with GE Security's decision to sell its Homeland business to SAFRAN? Hmmmm. TSA says the puffers were a pain. Yeah. No kidding. 94 machines were deployed, at $160,000 each, and managed to wrack up $6 million in maintenance just since 2005. $6 million/94=$63,830 per machine=holy crap! I love how sanguine Smiths Detection is:
"They got frustrated with the technology and moved on to something else — I think is the short story," Smiths Detection vice president Brook Miller said of TSA. Miller said the puffers had maintenance issues early on because they puff air and then suck it into the system to analyze it. "It just wasn't to be in the airport environment," he said. Puffers are still used at facilities with less human traffic to detect drugs, he said. Smiths Detection, which is based in England, is one of the manufacturers of the full-body imaging machines that will replace the puffers.
Oh well. You don't like our $160,000 machines? I guess they just weren't meant to be. Who really could have predicted that? Certainly not us, who make them and tested them extensively. We had no idea they'd crap out in an airport environment. But, here, we've got some other machines you can buy. We're pretty sure they'll work. And don't mind that privacy stink people are putting up. We're sure that won't be a problem. We'll even give you a deal: 10 percent off if you buy 200. As a frequent traveler, I'm not sure which is worse: Having to stand in an enclosed tube and be puffed or knowing that some TSA employee is staring at my junk.