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X-Ray Failure Disrupts Flights

April 01, 2006|From the Associated Press

NASHVILLE, 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 machines at the Nashville airport's two screening checkpoints was working 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 think 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 division of Smiths Heimann, said that after the software glitch, TSA representatives contacted the company and told it to refer 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 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," said Marilee McInnis, spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines.

Southwest is the Nashville airport's biggest carrier. McInnis said the delays affected flights in other cities Friday.

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