ALPA's Communications Department provides information and support for news
media inquiries. An ALPA communications representative can be reached in the Herndon, Va.
office at (703) 481-4440.
January 16, 2002
ALPA Statement on Arrest of Pilot at Philadelphia
WASHINGTON, D.C.---The following statement was released today by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, in response to the arrest of an airline pilot in Philadelphia last Sunday:
The arrest of an airline pilot for making a factual statement about incongruities in our security practices at airports underlines just how much of a strain the Sept. 11 attack has placed on the air transport system and on all Americans.
ALPA strongly supports the increases in security that have occurred since the terrorist attack. Indeed, the reason that we have x-ray machines and metal detectors at airports is because ALPA demanded them after the flurry of hijackings in the early 1970s. Within 24 hours after the Sept. 11 attack, ALPA began aggressive efforts to lead, expedite, or participate in many of the security changes that have been imposed since then.
Having said that, I must report that since Sept. 11, ALPA has received thousands of complaints from pilots regarding inconsistencies or improprieties they have encountered at airport screening points, and about the logic of some of the rules, for example, confiscating nail clippers when the pilot has access to a crash axe in the cockpit.
The issue reached the point where last month we posted on our internal Web site a comprehensive set of guidelines for pilots, explaining the regulations, proper procedures for screeners and pilots, and how pilots should handle problem situations.
There clearly are problems in the system, because itís not just pilots who are complaining. Various news stories have reported complaints from passengers about abuses such as improper touching, excessive zeal and arbitrary treatment at the hands of screeners.
Furthermore, pilots sometimes perceive that they are subjected to higher levels of scrutiny than normal, while others such as caterers and cleaning crews have access to their waiting aircraft with virtually no security checks or supervision.
ALPA strongly advises pilots always to comply with instructions at the screening points, but the problems of inconsistency and improper procedures are creating ill will among pilots and need to be addressed. We have been working with federal officials to try to rectify these problems. We anticipate some improvements when the Transportation Security Administration assumes control of airport security on Feb. 17. In the meantime, ALPA will defend the pilot involved in this unfortunate incident to ensure that a proper investigation has been conducted and that the pilot has been afforded appropriate due process in this case.
In closing, I want to highlight one specific proposal that ALPA has been proposing in one form or another since 1987. That is the "Universal Access" ID card system. New ID cards with embedded microchips can store a variety of information that would provide a nearly foolproof way to identify pilots and other airline and airport workers. Anyone bearing this form of ID could be processed through security with a less intense level of scrutiny. That would go a long way toward relieving a principal source of complaints from pilots. This technology can even be applied to the concept of "trusted passenger" lists. Pre-screened passengers bearing these encoded ID cards likewise would undergo less intense scrutiny.
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ALPA represents 66,000 airline pilots at 46 carriers in the U.S. and Canada. Its Web site is http://www.alpa.org.
ALPA CONTACT: John Mazor (703) 481-4440