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Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Commercial Airlines

Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement


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Mission: To manage aviation security policies and programs based on evolving threats to commercial airlines.

Overview:  The Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement Commercial Aviation Airlines Branch develops new policy, reviews existing policies to address evolving threats to commercial airlines, and provides regulatory oversight of commercial airlines including management of the Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP), Private Charter Standard Security Program (PCSSP), and associated security directives.

Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement Commercial Aviation Airlines Branch functional areas include:

  1. Acting as primary liaison between TSA Headquarters, aircraft operator corporate offices, and airline associations,
  2. Interpreting aviation security regulations and aviation security programs,
  3. Serving as subject matter experts on aviation security regulations and programs,
  4. Developing communication networks,
  5. Conducting aircraft operator corporate audits, and
  6. Reviewing and approving aircraft operator aviation security training programs.

Background: Planes from two of America’s iconic commercial airlines, United and American, were used for terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. TSA was created in response to those attacks and immediately began partnering with our Nation’s commercial airlines to combat terrorist threats.

Since U.S. carriers transport nearly 700 million passengers a year, the Airlines Branch focus is to ensure that each airline is compliant with all security programs, directives, and associated regulations for domestic commercial airlines.

Other major objectives of the Airlines Branch includes industry outreach and stakeholder communications.


  • The Airlines Branch manages over 66 domestic airlines.
  • In 2008, U.S. airline enplanements were over 450 million for domestic revenue passengers and 64 million foreign revenue passengers.
  • U.S. airlines operate from 450 TSA federalized domestic commercial airports.
  • U.S. airlines operate from 165 international airports throughout the world.

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Flight Crew Screening

TSA is working closely with flight crews to expedite their security screening by verifying their identity and employment at the checkpoint at airports nationwide, modeled after a successful test program for pilots that is currently operational at three airports.‬‪

While nationwide sterile area access systems for pilots and flight attendants are being created, crew members traveling in uniform on airline business will see immediate modifications to their checkpoint screening process due to their trusted status.‬‪

Crew members will continue to be subject to random screening and other layers of security.‬‪

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Programs and Initiatives


The Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement Commercial Aviation Airlines Branch manages the Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP), which is issued to U.S. airlines with scheduled passenger service and public charter operations flying from the sterile area* of airports. The Airlines Branch also manages the Private Charter Standard Security Program (PCSSP), which is issued to aircraft operators who operate private charters. Principal Security Inspectors (PSIs) conduct audits at corporate offices of assigned U.S. airlines.


  1. Develop new security measures, in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to address the vulnerability when the flight deck door is opened during flight.
  2. Institute a sterile area access system or method that will enhance security by properly identifying authorized airline flight deck and cabin crew members at screening checkpoints and granting them expedited access through screening.
  3. Support role as TSA assumes the function of conducting passenger pre-screening through the Secure Flight Program.
  4. Develop regulations to require Security Threat Assessments (STA) for all airline flight crew members and airline workers at airports.
  5. Introduce electronic or “paperless” boarding passes (PBP) delivered to the Blackberry or other mobile device.
  6. Develop a process to electronically validate boarding documents at the checkpoint.
  7. Develop a process for passengers to place bag tags on checked baggage.

*Sterile area is commonly considered to be the concourse area beyond the screening checkpoint where the exit gates to the aircraft are located.

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Standards and Regulations

Part 1544 Aircraft Operator Security: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators ( - Applies to aircraft operators holding operating certificates for scheduled passenger air transport service, public charters, private charter passenger operations, and other aircraft operators. This part requires these operators to adopt and carry out a security program approved by TSA. It contains requirements for screening of passengers and property. This part also describes requirements applicable to law enforcement officers flying armed aboard an aircraft, requirements for fingerprint based criminal history record checks of specified individuals, and requirements related to security directives issued to aircraft operators.

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Training and Exercises

The Vision 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act - Requires air carriers providing scheduled passenger air transportation to conduct basic security training for their flight and cabin crewmembers in order to prepare them for potential threat conditions that may occur onboard an aircraft. The act further requires TSA to develop and make available to flight and cabin crewmembers an advanced self-defense training program that includes appropriate and effective responses for defending against an attacker.

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Partnerships and Collaboration

Government Partners

Industry Partners

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Contact Us

For general information regarding TSNM Commercial Airlines, please send inquiries to:

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Latest revision: 29 January 2014