TSA Removes CrewPASS Implementation Hurdle
Last week, ALPA president
Capt. John Prater met with the secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano,
and the TSA administrator, John Pistole, to urge their support for obtaining
CrewPASS in the near term. Late on Friday, ALPA received an invitation to meet
with the TSA this afternoon to discuss this important program. ALPA was informed
that the administrator had taken ALPA’s message seriously and that he wants to
see CrewPASS implemented as quickly as possible. To help facilitate that, TSA
has now dropped its previous requirement for pilots to be enrolled with a
biometric (e.g., a fingerprint); this provision will be restored in the future,
but what it means for now is that CrewPASS becomes much simpler and less
expensive to implement than previously.
The TSA is meeting with the airlines tomorrow (Tuesday) and has asked us to
coordinate with the other parties in an effort to facilitate the success of this
program. Capt. Prater has reached out to the other crewmember unions and
industry officials to develop a consensual solution.
TSA today emphasized that ALPA had “cleared the way” for CrewPASS to become a
Security Alert Bulletin 2010-4 published last Friday, a promise was made to
update the membership with the answers to common questions about security.
Following are two that we have received over the last few days:
Q. Once CrewPASS is made operational, are pilots required to be on duty to
A. No. TSA does require that pilots be in uniform in order to go through the
CrewPASS lane, but they are not required to be on duty, nor are they required to
wear the uniform downstream of the security checkpoint.
Q. At what point are pilots considered to have “presented themselves” for
A. TSA has had many legal challenges involving withdrawal from screening and
screening legality with respect to the Fourth Amendment. The courts have upheld
airport screening as constitutional under the Fourth Amendment, in that it is an
administrative search and falls under the category of legal warrantless searches
as long as the search is specific (i.e., looking for prohibited items) and is
reasonable to ensure public safety.
The exact time that screening begins is not well defined. Screening of items
has traditionally been held to begin for bags when they are placed on the belt
to be X-rayed and for persons when they step through the walk-through metal
detector (WTMD). However, the laws have not caught up with the threat or the
technology; for instance, the current threat and countermeasures deployed
against that threat involve explosives.
One of the methods of mitigating this threat is the use of Explosives Trace
Detection (ETD). If a pilot is in the queue at a screening checkpoint, he or she
can turn around and leave in most instances because screening has not yet begun.
However, if a transportation security officer approaches someone in the queue
and asks him or her to submit to an ETD random test, screening has begun,
and the person must now complete the process. Another example involves the TSA’s
position of travel document checker (TDC). Verification of identity by the TDC
is a layer of security and is considered to be a method of screening, so when
one’s credentials are presented to the TDC, screening has begun. One more
consideration — at some airports, there is a sign that indicates the initiation
of screening when the sign is passed.