March 30, 2006
ALPA to DHS: Pilots Ready for Identification Cards
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the nation’s largest pilot union is urging the Department of Homeland Security to quickly implement the Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) to enhance airline security, and is offering the union’s assistance in its development.
“We believe that selecting commercial aviation first will help advance TWIC into all modes of transportation, because it is the most logical and easiest mode in which to start this program,” said Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, in a letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.
“First, we know that aviation is, and probably always will be, a target for terrorists. Therefore, it makes good sense to start with an industry that has already suffered enormous losses from terrorism. Furthermore, aviation workers have been vetted via FBI criminal history record checks, while many workers from other modes of transportation have not yet been similarly screened,” Woerth said.
ALPA’s interest in a universal, machine-verifiable identification card for air transport workers dates back to 1987, when a disgruntled former airline ground worker used his invalid identification card to smuggle a gun onto a flight. Despite the 9/11 attacks, progress on the TWIC program has been “a major disappointment to airline pilots because of unfulfilled expectations regarding the enhancements to security and efficiency that the system would provide.”
Citing news media reports that DHS is meeting some resistance to implementing the TWIC system in the maritime and trucking industries, Woerth offered ALPA’s assistance through “the services of our U.S. members to help facilitate the swift implementation of TWIC.”
“We recommend that DHS expeditiously follow through with the implementation of TWIC...starting with aviation, before expanding the system to other transportation modes,” he said.
“It is worth noting that the Canadian government is well on its way to fully implementing a system very similar to TWIC, called the Restricted Area Identification Card (RAIC) system, at all 29 major airports in Canada. RAIC utilizes a separate access point for cardholders, electronically verifies their identification and employment status, and randomly screens cardholders as an additional layer of security. U.S. airline pilots are eager to see the benefits of electronic identification security that their Canadian counterparts now enjoy via the RAIC,” Woerth said.
ALPA realizes that it may take some time to fully implement TWIC in the aviation arena. Until that time, ALPA urges the TSA to use existing crewmember credentials and passports to positively identify crewmembers at screening checkpoints. This necessary change will have an immediately positive effect on security and screener efficiency.
ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 39 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACTS: John Mazor, Linda Shotwell, (703) 481-4440, firstname.lastname@example.org