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TSA Tightens Requirements Under Known Crewmember Program

Aug. 27, 2019
3 min read
TSA Tightens Requirements Under Known Crewmember Program
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TSA has tightened rules that govern the Known Crewmember (KCM) program that offers separate screening lines for pilots and flight attendants on duty. The agency originally considered scrapping the program, first implemented in 2011, according to CNN.

While crew members will still have access to the special screening lines, TSA announced this week that it has authorized enhancements to KCM's Unpredictable Screening Procedures (USP). That begins Tuesday (Aug. 27) and means that crews are more likely to be pulled for random checks. If a crew member leaves the checkpoint area when selected for USP, they will still be required to go through normal screening. TSA will also require crew members to wear their uniforms when passing through KCM checkpoints, starting Wednesday (Aug. 28).

CNN says TSA made these "abrupt" changes over the weekend without consulting either the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) or the Airlines for America (A4A) group, each of which has helped administer the program. That led to speculation, according to the CNN reports, that there was a potential security threat with the program, although TSA refused to comment.

Before 2007, airline and airport employees were not required to go through airport security because of concerns about long lines. But in May 2007, TSA received a tip about possible weapons on board a Delta Air Lines flight from Orlando to San Juan, Puerto Rico. A search found 14 guns and eight pounds of marijuana in the carry-on bag of a Comair employee on the flight.

After the incident, TSA ramped up employee screening and security measures, though it did not require 100% screening of employees. Instead it chose to implement random screening of airport workers under its layered security approach, relying on a mix of extensive background checks, access controls, surveillance and law enforcement presence at airports.

The KCM program was created in 2011 after continued concerns about crew members being stuck in long security lines and causing flight delays. Then known as crewPASS, the system used TSA checkpoint computer terminals at security exit lanes to identify airline flight crew members. It was originally tested at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI), Pittsburgh International (PIT), and South Carolina's Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) in partnership with ALPA. However, those using crewPASS were still subject to random screening under TSA's layers of security efforts.

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KCM currently operates with 62 participating airlines and runs in 90 airports at 221 screening locations.

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