TSA to test ID-only check of pilots


ByThomasFrank,USATODAY
WASHINGTON—Thenation's75,000airlinepilotscouldavoidbeingscreenedforweaponsbeforetheyboardairplanesifateststartingshortlysucceeds.
Butcriticsincludingflightattendantsfearthatanarmedterroristposingasapilotcouldgetonanairplaneifpilotsdon'thavetowalkthroughmetaldetectorsandhavetheirbagsscannedbyX-raymachines.

Atthreetestairports,pilotswillskippassengerscreeningandgothroughseparatecheckpointswhereascreenerwillcheckonlytheirairlineID.Thetest,runbytheTransportationSecurityAdministration,willbegininearlysummerandcouldbecopiedaroundthecountryatalaterdate,TSAassistantadministratorJohnSammonsaid.
Pilots'unionshavebeenlobbyingtoskipairportscreening,whichtheycallunnecessaryand"demoralizing."TheAirLinePilotsAssociationnotesthatpilotsfaceextensivebackgroundtests,andthatpilotswantingtodoharmwithanairplanewouldhardlyneedaweaponbecausetheycontrolairplanes.

Airportscreening"hasjustwornonthem,"saidPeteJanhunen,spokesmanfortheAirLinePilotsAssociation,thelargestpilots'union."Youtrustthemtoflyamultimilliondollarairplane,andyetaTSAinspectorwithlittletraining,littleexperiencehastheabilitytostrip-searchthemforgels."

FINDMORESTORIESIN:Idaho|TransportationSecurityAdministration|AirLinePilotsAssociation|IDs|AssociationofFlightAttendants|CoreyCaldwell|JohnSammon|PeteJanhunenCongresspassedabroadanti-terrorlawlastsummerrequiringtheTSAtogivepilotsandflightattendants"expeditedaccessthroughscreeningcheckpoints."

TheAssociationofFlightAttendantssaysitdoesn'tmindcheckpointscreening—andthatitmustbedoneforeveryone."Itshouldn'tbedemoralizingforanyonetospendtheextrafewminutes(gettingscreened),"unionspokeswomanCoreyCaldwellsaid.

SammonoftheTSAsaidtheupcomingtestwillguardagainstterroristsusingastolenorforgedpilotID,andcouldspeedcheckpointsforpassengers.

Inthethreetestairports,whichhavenotbeenchosen,pilotswouldwalkthrough"exitlanes"wherepassengersarrivingonflightsleaveaconcourseintoanunsecuredterminal.ATSAscreenerwouldcheckpilots'airline-issuedphotoIDcardsagainstapilotdatabasewithphotos.ThescreenerwouldcomparetheIDphototothedatabasephototoverifyapilot'sidentity.

Aviation-securityconsultantRichRothsaid,"Idon'tseeanythingwrongwith"theprogram.

TheTSAusesseparatecheckpointsforthe10,000orsopilotswhoareapprovedtocarryhandguns,forlaw-enforcementofficersflyingonbusinessandpublicofficialswithanarmedsecuritydetail.ThosepeopleregisteratacheckpointandhavetheirIDschecked.

OtherpilotscanskipcheckpointsiftheyhaveairportIDsthatallowthemtoentersecureareasthroughemployeeentrances.Pilotsandflightattendantswhoarescreenedcangotothefrontofacheckpointline.

Sammonsaidexemptingflightattendantsfromscreeningcouldbemoredifficultbecausethereisnocentralizeddatabaseoftheiridentitieslikepilots.


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