The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening program is something that although in some ways improved over the past decade, has always seemed to lack common sense in others. One of the obvious ones is the screening of commercial airline pilots. Using the same screening for a uniformed commercial airline pilot with proper identification, as is used with any other passenger, seems absurd. This same pilot will soon be in control of an aircraft, responsible for the safety of hundreds of lives. The pilots have access to a crash axe while on the plane and may also be part of the armed pilot program, allowing him or her to have a firearm in the cockpit.
A recent issue of Air Line Pilot magazine talked about the benefits of the Known Crewmember (KCM) pilot screening process, currently being tested in seven major sites. This program which debuted in August at Chicago O’Hare has helped expedite thousands of pilots through security. The KCM enables TSA security officers to check databases that verify a pilot’s identity and employment status. In a recent USA Today article, TSA Administrator John Pistole says the agency’s strategy is to increasingly focus the heaviest screening on the riskiest travelers. The TSA needs to have a screening program that is not only consistent from airport to airport, but is also able to identify individuals who are not a threat, allowing them to focus on individuals who are. Which makes sense.