WASHINGTON - Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John S. Pistole announced today that the agency is taking additional steps to streamline security screening for U.S. air carrier pilots. Pistole directed TSA to review existing protocols for pilots after he was appointed to lead the agency this summer.
"Pilots are trusted partners who ensure the safety of millions of passengers flying every day," said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. "Allowing these uniformed pilots, whose identity has been verified, to go through expedited screening at the checkpoint just makes for smart security and an efficient use of our resources."
"We appreciate TSA's dedication to safeguarding the flying public and their acknowledgement of airline pilots as trusted security partners," said Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l (ALPA). "An enhanced screening process for airline pilots will provide a higher level of security while moving them efficiently through checkpoints. As a result, airline pilots will be treated in a manner that reflects their trustworthiness and responsibility as professionals."
"Establishing a secure system to positively identify and verify the employment status of uniformed pilots is a common sense, risk-based approach that allows TSA to dedicate more resources to unknown threats," said Capt. Paul Onorato, President of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA). "This is another example of pilots working with TSA to help ensure the safety and security of the traveling public."
"The US Airline Pilots Association appreciates the TSA's willingness to work with us to find a solution that recognizes what an important asset pilots are to the security process," stated USAPA President Mike Cleary. "We are eager to continue the conversation with Administrator Pistole and our fellow pilots' unions to ensure that these new protocols are implemented properly and in the very near future."
"I am glad that the TSA is working with pilots as the trusted partners they are in this important security effort," said Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. "I look forward to continuing to work with them to reach our common goal of making air travel as safe as possible for the American public."
"We view this as a very welcome policy change," said Gregg Overman, Communications Director for the Allied Pilots Association.
TSA is working closely with pilots to expedite their security screening by verifying their identity and employment at the checkpoint at airports nationwide, modeled after a successful pilot program that is currently operational at three airports.
While a nationwide sterile area access system for pilots is being phased in, pilots traveling in uniform on airline business will see immediate modifications to their checkpoint screening process due to their trusted status. Eligible pilots must work for a U.S. carrier, be traveling in uniform, and on airline business. Pilots will enter the secure area after presenting their airline-issued identification and another form of identification to Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). TSOs will check credentials against a secure, real-time airline flight deck crewmember database, which includes a picture and other information to verify the individual's employment status.
Flight deck crewmembers who utilize this program will also be subject to random screening and other layers of security.
In conjunction with the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l, TSA tested a sterile area access system called CrewPASS in 2008 and 2009. In June 2009, TSA announced Crew Personnel Advanced Screening System (CrewPASS) would continue to operate at the test sites: Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International, Pittsburgh International, and Columbia (S.C.) Metropolitan airports.
For more information about the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l, please visit www.alpa.org .