Release #10.001
January 19, 2010

Pilots: U.S. and Canada Must Shift to Trust-Based Aviation Security
ALPA White Paper Frames New Approach to Enhance Aviation Security and Improve Travel Experience

WASHINGTON – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), is calling for improvements in the aviation security screening system that will allow trustworthy passengers to be promptly cleared through security, while focusing much greater resources on those whose trustworthiness is unknown or in doubt.

“We’ve learned that if there’s a will, there’s often a way to do harm, yet we still screen everyone essentially the same way and spend most of our security resources looking for objects, not indications of hostile intent,” said Capt. John Prater, president of ALPA. “Identifying trustworthy individuals is critical, so that more time and scrutiny can be given to those passengers about whom little is known and to those who may intend to do us harm.”

In a white paper released today, titled “Meeting Today’s Aviation Security Needs: A Call to Action for a Trust-Based Security System,” ALPA calls for identifying the trustworthiness of each passenger through a combination of publicly available information, human interaction, and behavior-pattern recognition.

“The objects that can be used to cause harm are constantly changing, but the intent to do harm remains constant,” said Capt. Robb Powers, ALPA’s National Security Committee chairman. “A trust-based approach will, most importantly, create an even more secure air transportation system, but it will also limit privacy intrusions, leverage existing resources, and make screening more efficient.”

Collaboration among the government, airlines, and ALPA is essential to determining the specific means of putting a trust-based system in place. Actions must include examining ways to incorporate security into airport facility design, protect airport entrance points, address the “insider threat,” and guard against aircraft sabotage.

In addition, ALPA has played a key role in developing, and advocated for enhancing, other proven aviation security initiatives that will complement a trust-based approach. These initiatives include efforts to install lightweight and low-cost “secondary” barriers to protect the flight deck when the fortified cockpit door is opened, and to continue to foster the Federal Flight Deck Officer program in the United States, which now includes many thousands of trained, armed pilots protecting the flight deck with lethal force. ALPA also has underscored the stark difference between the security of passenger flight operations and that of all-cargo operations and calls for improving all-cargo security.

“Airline pilots feel a profound obligation to safeguard the 800 million passengers and millions of tons of freight we fly each year,” continued Prater. “ALPA looks forward to working with government and the airlines in what must be an expeditious and collaborative effort to better safeguard our passengers through a trust-based system of aviation security.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 53,000 pilots at 37 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at

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CONTACT: Linda Shotwell, 703/481-4440 or