Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pilots for Pilots

One of the requirements of the 9/11 Bill asked TSA to look at ways to enhance security by identifying airline flight deck crew members (pilots) and giving them a faster way to get through security.

TSA is now piloting a couple of ways to meet this requirement, which will get pilots to their planes a little faster without compromising security.

The Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) is currently testing a system called CrewPass at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI), Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) in South Carolina. At these three airports, pilots using specified exit lanes approach the Transportation Security Officer at the podium and present their airline badge. The officer enters the pilot’s badge number into a device. The pilot’s face appears on the screen allowing the officer to ensure that both faces match up.

Concurrently, testing of another system is being done at BWI called Secure Screen. Developed with Southwest Airlines, this program is currently in use for participating Southwest Airline pilots only flying out of BWI. Similar to CrewPass, they arrive at a specified exit lane and approach the officer on duty. They present their pilot’s badge and at the same time enter a “clear key” - similar to a USB drive - into a reader. The reader displays the photo of the pilot and waits for the pilot to place their thumb or finger on the clear key. The system verifies that the biometric thumb print matches the fingerprint being placed on it. This system combines identification verification with a biometric component.

Commercial flight deck crew members are responsible for the safety of hundreds of passengers at any time and are trusted to operate million dollar aircraft on a daily basis. Allowing them to move more efficiently through the security process, while also being able to verify they are who they say they are, fits into our risk-based security approach.

EoS Blog Team