Air attack may mean profits for some

JACKSON, Miss. —A recent attempted terrorist attack aboard a commercial airliner could mean big business for companies making body imaging scanners, especially two firms with technology already approved by federal authorities.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Greg Soule said Rapiscan Systems in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and L-3 Communications Holdings, based in New York, have met TSA's "imaging technology standards" for scanners in airports.

Soule said any new orders would be put out for competitive bid. He said the X-ray body scanners cost $130,000 to $170,000 apiece.

The TSA hasn't said if it will speed up efforts to install machines in airports beyond plans already in place after authorities said a man tried to blow up a plane on Christmas.

Some security experts believe imaging technology could have detected the explosives hidden beneath his clothes.

Rapiscan anticipates an increase in demand and is prepared to expand the Mississippi operation if the company needs to, said Peter Kant, executive vice president for global government affairs.

"We expect a certain spike in demand," Kant said.

Rapiscan is in the process of filling a TSA order placed before the attack for 150 scanners, and the agency has inquired about the company's ability to increase production, Kant said.

The TSA plans to buy 300 more scanning devices in 2010 after a competitive bid process.

L-3 announced in early December that the TSA approved its product, Provision, and that it has about 40 devices in 19 airports.