Monday, April 24, 2006

Software glitch causes bomb scare at Atlanta airport

To keep baggage screeners frosty during their shifts, the baggage screening software at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will display an image of a bomb or another dangerous device on the screen. This image should normally be followed by some text indicating that the image was a test.

Apparently, a software "glitch" prevented the test message from being displayed after it showed a picture of a bomb. The screeners, not knowing that they were being shown a test image, reacted by searching the luggage on the belt. When they could not find the device pictured, they assumed that it had already made it through security and initiated an airport wide alert, grounding flights and evacuating travelers from the airport for about two hours.

I suppose it's a good thing that the TSA reacted appropriately, but I'd hate to be the employee that called for the evacuation. Worse, it's probably not a good time to be working at the company that provided the buggy software. The airport was the nation's busiest in 2005.

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