December 04, 2019
We’re now in the midst of the holiday travel season, and I’m deeply concerned that the issues faced by ALPA members when utilizing the Known Crewmember program may be escalating to the point of negatively impacting the safety and efficiency of flight operations in the United States.
I’ve personally read the many reports from ALPA pilots. I can assure you that our national officers and professional staff feel and share your frustration. We recognize that this wholly unacceptable situation is largely attributable to a new, highly flawed electronic randomizer algorithm and inconsistently applied Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening procedures. The result has caused a serious strain on the air transportation system and on ALPA members by yielding an unreliable system that creates stress; generates distraction; and detracts from safe, secure, and efficient flight operations.
Given these circumstances, I’m also troubled that KCM is no longer fulfilling the intent of Congress. By passing the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, lawmakers called on the TSA to create a system to identify authorized airline flight deck and cabin crews at screening checkpoints and grant them expedited access. It is painfully clear that this direction from Congress is not being realized in the current environment.
When he spoke with ALPA’s Executive Board a few weeks ago, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske emphasized his unequivocal support for KCM. At the meeting, Admiral Pekoske listened to your serious concerns regarding the electronic randomizer. He pledged to examine the issues and offered to review the service provider—yet the issues remain unresolved, and our frustrations continue to grow.
In a letter I sent on Friday, November 22, to both Admiral Pekoske and Airlines for America President Nick Calio, I left no doubt that the time has come to immediately and indefinitely suspend the TSA’s use of the current electronic randomizer. I let it be known that ALPA will partner with them to take every action necessary to remedy this situation on behalf of our members as well as the traveling and shipping public.
In a recent news release announcing the prediction of a record-breaking holiday travel season, TSA stated that partnerships with industry and stakeholders are critical to keep travelers moving safely and securely to holiday destinations. We couldn’t agree more.
ALPA stands ready to work with TSA and A4A as partners in eliminating the flawed randomizer and procedure application issues and advancing Known Crewmember as a highly effective program in a risk-based approach to aviation security.
I sincerely hope that TSA and A4A will engage with us and address the randomizer issue. Your reports of issues at KCM security checkpoints are more important than ever—they provide the data we need to make our case. If you encounter a problem, I urge you to contact your MEC security chair or coordinator and ALPA’s Engineering and Air Safety Department (EAS@alpa.org, 800-424-2470).
As ALPA members go to work during the busiest travel days of the year, I’ve been clear to Admiral Pekoske and President Calio that the safety and security risks posed by both the flawed randomizer and inconsistent procedures must be fully and swiftly addressed. In the event these issues are not remedied, I have let them know—in no uncertain terms—that ALPA members who choose to forgo KCM and instead go through regular passenger screening would have the full support of their union.
On behalf of each of you, ALPA is holding the TSA and A4A to account for resolving these serious issues and restoring the KCM program’s effectiveness and efficiency. To every ALPA pilot, I thank you for everything you do to keep flying safe and secure.
Capt. Joe DePete