Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Day In The Life Of: Transportation Security Inspectors (TSI)

In an effort to explain the many different positions we have in the field, I've asked a Transportation Security Inspector (TSI) from Cincinnati to talk a little about his position.

Jim is from the Aviation side of Inspections, so keep in mind that TSA has a cadre of inspectors in the field. We’ll highlight their jobs in the future as well.

Now, the next time you see the folks in the fancy "TSA Inspector" jackets, you'll know what they do. ~ Bob

When most people think about TSA, the dedicated men and women performing the duties of the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) come to mind; and why not? It is by far the most visible public component of TSA and usually the first thing we see as we approach the checkpoint. Much like the many layers that make up TSA’s security “system of systems”, other components of TSA are tasked with duties not so visible to the traveling public, but are just as fundamental to securing our nation’s transport systems. Today I will discuss one of those components...TSA’s Transportation Security Inspectors, or TSIs.

As with most things governmental, regulations abound! Especially with respect to airline operations, airport operations and the wide variety of security programs that these entities adopt and implement. That’s where the TSI comes in. I’m an aviation inspector, so I’ll refrain from commentary on the cargo inspection program or the surface (rail and mass transit) inspection program. The duties and responsibilities of a TSI are quite varied due in no small part to an industry that can be complex, market driven, evolving and critical to our nation’s economy. Bear with me as I reach deep into my mind-numbing facts hat and reference the actual regulations that drive what TSIs actually inspect. Our beloved Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) has many titles and parts, but for the aviation TSI, it’s all about 49 CFR part 1500 and the relevant subchapters. Within that body of work, those who find themselves regulated by TSA will know what is expected of them as well as what can be expected from us. If you find yourself unable to sleep on a given night, look them up on the web at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/ under the executive resources portion.

So, what does it all mean? TSIs in the field conduct comprehensive inspections, assessments and investigations of regulated entities to determine how well they comply with the regulations as well as identifying areas of weakness that need to be fixed. Exactly how is it done? Well, TSIs will use a variety of methods to determine compliance which may include surveillance, interview, document review and/or testing. But it doesn’t end there. Those findings are archived so we can get a snapshot of trouble areas that are common and adjust our security priorities to meet those needs.

In addition to our normal inspection workload, TSIs conduct investigations into alleged violations of security regulations at the screening checkpoint. Normally this would be the result of a person attempting to bring something prohibited through the screening checkpoint – things like guns, explosives and incendiaries. On occasion, and it doesn’t happen all too often, someone will cause a fracas at the checkpoint that rises to level of interference with the screening process. When that happens, the TSI will investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged violation and determine what enforcement action is appropriate. An enforcement action may be administrative in nature (warning notice), or result in a monetary fine (civil penalty). However, if the investigation demonstrates that no violation occurred, the matter will be closed with no action and a letter advising the person of that determination will be mailed out. I could go on and on regarding enforcement actions because those can be thorny and it doesn’t simply end with a fine because the TSI recommends it. There is a process and I will defer to our legal team regarding the steps that it entails.

Lastly, TSIs conduct outreach activity with our industry partners and local/Federal agencies in order to foster that open relationship and share information critical to our mutual success. There is more to a TSI’s job than what I have written about today, but my post is getting long so I’ll wrap it up. Perhaps I can post another time with some more riveting TSI tidings. Until then, travel safe and thanks for checking out our blog!

Guest Blogger

Jim

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I could go on and on regarding enforcement actions because those can be thorny and it doesn’t simply end with a fine because the TSI recommends it. There is a process and I will defer to our legal team regarding the steps that it entails."

So your non-judicial and non-constitutional "process" is so complex that you couldn't understand it as an insider and only a lawyer can address the topic? Sounds fair to me...

Tomas said...

Thank you for the brief, well written start on us understanding better the functions of a TSI, Jim.

Prior to this just about the only thing many of the traveling public knew about TSIs was garnered from the many news items about the _______ who was caught climbing on the probes sticking out of the fuselages of numerous commercial passenger aircraft as if they were his personal jungle gym.

Personally I would like to learn more about the functions, actions, training, assignments, and supervision of TSIs. Hopefully you will have the time and desire to provide us with more details (and won't get beat up too badly by the folks here on EoS).

BTW, Blogger Bob, what was the final outcome with the TSI climbing on airliner probes? I don't believe we heard.

Take care,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

Sandra said...

Anonymous wrote:

"So your non-judicial and non-constitutional "process" is so complex that you couldn't understand it as an insider and only a lawyer can address the topic? Sounds fair to me..."

Well, you gotta give Jim credit for at least not suggesting we Google the legalities like Francine did!

Anonymous said...

This blog post is full of vague management-speak sentences that convey no information.

Anonymous said...

So your non-judicial and non-constitutional "process" is so complex that you couldn't understand it as an insider and only a lawyer can address the topic? Sounds fair to me...

In fairness, while having more regulations to answer for is a huge pain in the rear for this aviation professional, there's nothing unlawful about it. This is the way administrative law works; the byproduct of bureaucracy, if you will. The FAA has Aviation Safety Inspectors to enforce the safety side of the house, and has had them for decades before the TSA ever came into existance. The Post Office has postal inspectors to enforce postal regulations, as do many other agencies have inspectors to enforce their various regulations. Aviation just happens to be one of the most heavily regulated industries to work in; now in addition to the safety regulations we've always had to follow, now we have security regulations to follow as well and fines to pay and other penalties if we fail to follow them. I realize TSA's job is to focus on security, naturally. But for us who work in the industry, security is only one small piece of what it takes to deliver you to your destinations safely every day.

Now with that said, TSIs, please stay off aircraft and don't go around climbing on them to try to break in like you guys did with American Eagle aircraft several months ago. That's unprofessional and puts the flying public in grave danger.

RB said...

So your the guys who climb up the sides of aircraft using external aircraft insturment probes as hand and foot holds, thereby jeopardizing the safety of the traveling public, right?

All I needed to know!

Eric said...

They also break airplane parts. Just saying.

Tomas said...

Still another Anonymous wrote...
In fairness, while having more regulations to answer for is a huge pain in the rear for this aviation professional, there's nothing unlawful about it. This is the way administrative law works; the byproduct of bureaucracy, if you will. The FAA has Aviation Safety Inspectors to enforce the safety side of the house, and has had them for decades before the TSA ever came into existance.
________________

(At least the FAA inspectors are generally safe to leave alone with aircraft...)

Again, some of the doubt comes, I'm sure, from the little problem of TSA keeping so many of their rules secret while the FAA's rules are public. Makes 'em MUCH easier to follow.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Anonymous said...

Again, some of the doubt comes, I'm sure, from the little problem of TSA keeping so many of their rules secret while the FAA's rules are public. Makes 'em MUCH easier to follow.

What secret rules? According to the original post, the TSI is charged with enforcing 49 CFR part 1500, plain rules you could read for yourself. Some of the specific requirements issued to air carriers is considered SSI, but those who need to know about them (i.e. held accountable for implementing them), have access to the information.

Somebody please produce once example of a time a Transportation Security Inspector initiated enforcement action against a person or organization for breaking "secret" rules that the respondant couldn't/shouldn't have known about.

Anonymous said...

"Somebody please produce once example of a time a Transportation Security Inspector initiated enforcement action against a person or organization for breaking "secret" rules that the respondant couldn't/shouldn't have known about."

From the original post: "On occasion, and it doesn’t happen all too often, someone will cause a fracas at the checkpoint that rises to level of interference with the screening process. When that happens, the TSI will investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged violation and determine what enforcement action is appropriate. An enforcement action may be administrative in nature (warning notice), or result in a monetary fine (civil penalty)"

Hence they are directly engaged in handing out the non-judicial non-appealable fines to citizens for "interference" which is only defined in vague memos we are not allowed to see and most likely is defined as whatever a screener feels annoyed at. (Writing 'TSA is stupid' on a kippie baggie perhaps? Taking a picture of a public installation through which tens of thousands of people flow each day, several of which have photographic memory anyways?)

Like all other parts of TSA, they allow their mission to creep from physically breaking airplanes to harassing passengers.

Anonymous said...

There are over 1500 TSIs and all the commenters on this blog can talk about is the ONE TSI that screwed up? That says volumes about the people reading this blog. Every workforce has workers who have done the wrong thing. That doesn't mean the whole workforce is guilty and capable of doing the same thing!

RB said...

RB said...
So your the guys who climb up the sides of aircraft using external aircraft instrument probes as hand and foot holds, thereby jeopardizing the safety of the traveling public, right?

All I needed to know!

March 5, 2009 9:18 PM
.....................
I made the comments posted above and after some thinking feel some follow up is needed.

I am a Navy veteran with aircraft maintenance training. The first thing the Navy did before we got near an airplane was to educate us on the dangerous areas of airplanes, sensitive instrumentation common to most airplanes and in general be sure that we would not kill ourselves or a flight crew because of ignorance.

I find it very strange that TSA would give a person who is so poorly educated that they do not know what the probes sticking out of the front of an airplane are access to the flight line. These people are a hazard to themselves and anyone who travels by air.

Many areas of an airplane can cause harm or death to the uneducated. Abuse of the aircraft can result in an aircraft crash.

I must wonder just what skills a TSI must have before getting around aircraft. Few it would seem.

How can TSA allow these uneducated people access to airplanes?

If actions of poorly trained unqualified TSI's threaten the safety of the public then what good are these people?

What actions were taken against the TSI's who damaged the airplanes that TSA bragged about?

This is a complete failure of TSA Management and illustrates how TSA is protecting the public!

Anonymous said...

How can such a young agency have a "normal inspection workload"? Isn't your agency too young to blame for defects?

George said...

@Anonymous, March 6, 2009 9:24 AM: There are over 1500 TSIs and all the commenters on this blog can talk about is the ONE TSI that screwed up? That says volumes about the people reading this blog.

Actually, the only "volumes" it says about the people reading this blog is that the screwup was only time we had previously heard of TSIs. Given the inept public relations job the TSA has been doing, and what we have experienced of the TSA's "public face" at airport checkpoints, it's not surprising that the people reading this blog would associate TSIs with ineptly damaging aircraft.

Jim's post is apparently an attempt to shed some light on this mysterious TSA function. It could have been better.

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes:

There are over 1500 TSIs and all the commenters on this blog can talk about is the ONE TSI that screwed up? That says volumes about the people reading this blog. Every workforce has workers who have done the wrong thing. That doesn't mean the whole workforce is guilty and capable of doing the same thing!

There are over 40 million passengers who fly on airplanes every year. Why is it that all the TSOs can talk about here are the 5000 passengers each year who intentionally try to break the rules? (After all, that's only 0.02% of all passengers.) That doesn't mean the entire passenger public is guilty of doing the same thing!

Ok, I'll be less sarcastic now. But there is a serious point. TSA demands that every passenger follows the rules perfectly, every time. 99.98% isn't good enough. If that's the case, then TSA employees (like TSIs) have to be held to the same standard of perfection.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
There are over 1500 TSIs and all the commenters on this blog can talk about is the ONE TSI that screwed up? That says volumes about the people reading this blog. Every workforce has workers who have done the wrong thing. That doesn't mean the whole workforce is guilty and capable of doing the same thing!
March 6, 2009 9:24 AM
...................................
Is it just one TSI who screwed up? I think not!

Just a small part of an article about the damage one TSI caused but more about the whole TSI program.

Why wasn’t this person charged with a criminal offense? At a minimum they should have paid the cost of labor and parts for the damage caused.

If you think TSA is concerned about your safety then you are standing on the edge of a cliff!

Go ahead, take that next step!!

http://tinyurl.com/6c93ss

The TSA has NO BUSINESS putting untrained personnel in a position to damage aircraft. Their bizarre games, in the name of security, do NOTHING to enhance security and do much to inhibit safety. Aviation personnel -- pilots, A&P's, ground personnel -- are all either licensed or supervised by licensed personnel and this kind of tampering, had it been accomplished by anyone else, would have subjected that person to criminal charges.
In this case, ANN strongly recommends and encourages the criminal prosecution of this so-called inspector and his immediate supervisors... it is a matter of time before one of these morons does something stupid and gets someone killed... and with the way these incidents are occurring, we believe it is a virtual certainty that a TSA "Inpector" will hurt or kill someone in such a manner. No kidding.

Sandra said...

As an addendum to RB's post at 12:21, IIRC, one outcome of this "inspector" damaging the aircraft was that the TSA threatened to fine American Eagle for allegedly failing to properly secure its aircraft.

Only the TSA would have the c.....s to fine an entity after a TSA employee did not follow proper procedure.

But that seems to be par for the course with the TSA.

RB said...

There are over 40 million passengers who fly on airplanes every year. Why is it that all the TSOs can talk about here are the 5000 passengers each year who intentionally try to break the rules? (After all, that's only 0.02% of all passengers.)

..........................
Jim, I have seen reports of 2 million people per day who fly this nations airways. I cannot validate that number but if anywhere near correct you will need several more zeros after the decimal in your calculation.

Just saying!

TSORon said...

"TSA demands that every passenger follows the rules perfectly, every time. 99.98% isn't good enough. If that's the case, then TSA employees (like TSIs) have to be held to the same standard of perfection."

Sorry Jim, but that’s not really a very accurate statement. We don’t demand anything from our passengers, they can come to the checkpoint totally unprepared for the experience if they like. We are going to be there for the day anyway, so if it takes a passenger 20 minutes to get through the divestment portion of the process we don’t mind. Its not out trip, its not our business meeting, and it certainly not a major concern for us.

Additionally, the fact is that about 1 in 3 people “break the rules”. Liquids, phones, laptops, keys, belts, knives, and the list goes on. The “rules” are clearly posted throughout every airport I have ever been in, not just in mine. There are overhead announcements, signs, web sites, FAQ’s, blogs, and just about every other means of communication known to mankind about what the TSA does and does not allow. “Why?” is a question that each individual can answer all by themselves if they care to invest a bit of their time doing some research. But, just in case you demand to know why while at the checkpoint, I’ll refer you to my supervisor, who gets paid to deal with those who cannot do for themselves.

RB said...

Only the TSA would have the c.....s to fine an entity after a TSA employee did not follow proper procedure.

But that seems to be par for the course with the TSA.

March 6, 2009 1:28 PM

................
See, you got it wrong Sandra.

TSA said the TSI did a good job when he damaged those airplanes, even after being told by airline company mechanics that what he was doing would damage the aircraft.

So TSA it seems was very satisfied with the job this guy did, damage and all!

I have to wonder how many travelers killed it would take to get that TSI a promotion?

Anonymous said...

@TSORon: the fact is that about 1 in 3 people “break the rules”. Liquids, phones, laptops, keys, belts, knives, and the list goes on.

That's a fairly high non-compliance rate. Is it even remotely possible that it's not entirely the fault of passengers?

We are going to be there for the day anyway, so if it takes a passenger 20 minutes to get through the divestment portion of the process we don’t mind. Its not out trip, its not our business meeting, and it certainly not a major concern for us.

If that statement exemplifies the attitude TSOs have toward passengers, the TSA deserves to be the agency everyone hates. The parts of the TSA that are readily visible to the public certainly don't inspire any confidence in the parts that aren't, like the TSIs.

Jim Huggins said...

RB writes:

Jim, I have seen reports of 2 million people per day who fly this nations airways. I cannot validate that number but if anywhere near correct you will need several more zeros after the decimal in your calculation.

I went back to find the website where I found the statistic ... and then found that they were describing traffic in India, not the US. My apologies. [hangs head in shame ...]

The real numbers for 2008: 600 million domestic, 140 million international passengers.
So, I was only off by a factor of 10 ...

TSORon writes:

Additionally, the fact is that about 1 in 3 people “break the rules”. Liquids, phones, laptops, keys, belts, knives, and the list goes on.

I'm not talking about little stuff like that. All of the stuff you mentioned above can be fixed at the checkpoint, by all the means we've stated (check the offending item in a bag, discard the item, give it away, etc.). No harm, no foul, right?

I'm talking about the big stuff: fake ID, carrying a firearm ... you know, the stuff for which the TSO can call a LEO over and have you arrested. That's what I'm estimating at 5000 a year, based on this week's statistics on the TSA home page.

Look, nobody probably would've even noticed the infamous Chicago TSI if he'd failed to fill out a report properly, or didn't wear his uniform according to regulations, or any of that. It only became a story when he endangered people's lives by breaking essential safety equipment.

At that point, I think my ratio still stands. Even if you double the number of serious incidents to 10,000/year, you still have to contrast that with 740,000,000 passengers every year. The 99.998% of passengers who don't endanger aircraft isn't good enough for TSA; 100% of passengers have to be compliant. TSA should hold its own staff to the same standard.

Anonymous said...

TSORon said...

"...if it takes a passenger 20 minutes to get through the divestment portion of the process we don’t mind. Its not out trip, its not our business meeting, and it certainly not a major concern for us."

Ronny, I'm pretty sure this is not what they meant when they said to "Engage". Why don't you think about what it is that you are saying before you say it and give those TSO's that are trying to better the organization for the flying public a chance to improve things for everyone. Your comments do not help their cause!

Anonymous said...

The incident in Chicago with the TSI placing his foot on the piece of aircraft equipment DID result in delayed flights due to the aircraft having to be inspected, but the inspections turned up NO damage. Did the TSI screw up? Absolutely? And while the ends cannot justify the means, at least SEVEN American Eagle aircraft were identified as being unsecured. How would YOU feel about putting your loved ones on board an aircraft that had not been properly protected in accordance with established rules, which the airline was SUPPOSED to be following, but was not? Odd how everyone just seemed to gloss over that little tidbit.

Anonymous said...

Just because the rules aren't published in a low-brow newspaper with pretty pie charts doesn't mean they are secret. If you REALLY want to read that stuff, Google Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1540, Part 1542, Part 1544, Part 1546, Part 1548, Part 1550, Part 1552. It's all there in black and white. But, you have to read the words. For the travelling passenger, the most applicable reference would be Part 1540 - that's the one that says passengers have to behave like responsible adults when going through security at the airport - a requirement which proves rather difficult to many travelers, as witness by some of the media reports.

TSO Jacob said...

Jim I am confused by your statement, “I'm talking about the big stuff: fake ID, carrying a firearm ... you know, the stuff for which the TSO can call a LEO over and have you arrested….The 99.998% of passengers who don't endanger aircraft isn't good enough for TSA; 100% of passengers have to be compliant.”

Are you surprised that TSA requires that 100% of passengers don’t carry a firearm and don’t try to pass of a fake ID? TSOs don’t panic with passengers who forget water bottles in their bags, mistakenly forget to remove their laptops or didn’t place their pocket knifes in their checked baggage. As you stated in your post we can take care of all of that immediately at the checkpoint. The TSOs are focused on the explosives and guns that people try to carry on the planes and yes we do insist that 100% of passengers comply with these rules.

Anonymous said...

I think TSA has been significantly improving their service through the attitudes of their staff and additional training. It is a very difficult mission and I commend them.

I wish the people commenting on this blog would check the anger at the door and offer constructive criticisms as to how TSA should enforce the rules Congress puts in place.

Should there be no screening checkpoints at all -- is that what would make everyone feel more secure.

I for one appreciate that there is screening and other inspections. I know they make mistakes, but everyone I have met at TSA seems focused on their mission, even if I don't agree with all of the policies.

Phil said...

TSORon wrote:

"The `rules' are clearly posted throughout every airport I have ever been in, not just in mine. There are overhead announcements, signs, web sites, FAQ’s, blogs, and just about every other means of communication known to mankind about what the TSA does and does not allow."

Ron, we don't believe it. Let's see a picture of those signs. As has been discussed repeatedly for a year on this blog, the other information sources you cited are incomplete, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Please just publish a list of the rules you require us to follow so we'll know how to ensure that we are in compliance. You can't expect us to follow rules that you refuse to show us.

TSA: Please publish a list of all the rules and regulations that you will subject someone to if that person wishes to cross a U.S. Government checkpoint at an airport en route to the gate from which his domestic flight will depart, not including laws that the person is required to abide by outside of the airport checkpoint (i.e., just those rules and regulations that apply only at the checkpoint).

I'm not asking for tips for travelers, suggestions on how to pack our bags, hints, clues, guidelines, or press releases. I'm not asking to see TSA's super-secret procedures (those that thousands of lowest-level-of-TSA airport security guards who turn over at a rate of somewhere around 25% per year, are allowed to see), not a pointer to the entire TSA "guidelines for travelers" page, the entire TSA Web site (filled, as noted here and acknowledged by EoS staff with inconsistencies and inaccuracies), the entire U.S. Government Web, or the whole Internet -- just a list of the rules TSA imposes on travelers at a U.S. Government airport checkpoint.

Note that on November 12, 2008, in the "Family/Special Needs Lanes Coming to All Airports in Time for Thanksgiving Travel" post, Paul at TSA wrote, "Still working on the comprehensive list of regulations both definite and situational," but that despite repeated requests for an update on his progress, we've heard nothing more about it.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Tomas said...

TSO Jacob wrote...
Jim I am confused by your statement, “I'm talking about the big stuff: fake ID, carrying a firearm ... you know, the stuff for which the TSO can call a LEO over and have you arrested….The 99.998% of passengers who don't endanger aircraft isn't good enough for TSA; 100% of passengers have to be compliant.”

Are you surprised that TSA requires that 100% of passengers don’t carry a firearm and don’t try to pass of a fake ID?

________________

I'm not Jim, but no, that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Neither should it surprise you that we expect the "professionals" on the other side of the counter to follow the rules 100% of the time, and to have some method to ensure they do rather than being forced to "voluntarily surrender" our personal property without cause...

I believe that is more the point.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

Jim Huggins said...

TSO Jacob writes:

Jim I am confused by your statement ...

I suspect because, at this point, it's hard to remember the original point I was trying to make.

Here's how we got here:

1. Blogger Bob posts an article from TSI Jim, describing what TSIs do.

2. Fairly quickly, posters start rehashing the infamous incident last August, when a TSI damaged nine aircraft at Midway. (Which is probably the only other time most of us here had ever heard of a TSI.)

3. An anonymous respondent writes:
There are over 1500 TSIs and all the commenters on this blog can talk about is the ONE TSI that screwed up?

4. I respond: TSA demands that every passenger follows the rules perfectly, every time. 99.98% isn't good enough. If that's the case, then TSA employees (like TSIs) have to be held to the same standard of perfection.

And then we got off onto various side tangents and so forth, like my inability to do basic math. :)

I'm not trying to argue that TSA needs to loosen its security standards. What I am saying is that the same standards have to be applied to all parties --- not just in following the rules, but in the public analysis of the actions of those parties.

TSA demands that passengers follow the rules perfectly, all the time, and publicly trumpets how many times it finds people who commit major rule violations --- even if the number of people involved in such violations is less than 0.002% of all passengers. Then TSA employees must also follow their rules and procedures perfectly, all the time, and should not be surprised when the failures of one of their employees become the subject of public ridicule --- even if such occurrences are rare.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

TSI Jim said...

First off, let me thank the many bloggers for the commentary on this subject...I knew it would be interesting going in, but I'm open minded so let's keep on going! Tomas asked for a little more in the way of functions, actions, training, assignments and supervision of TSIs and I'd like to offer some insight into that if I may.

To say the least, inspections are my primary function…my raison d’ĂȘtre! Our entire inspection work year, broken down into quarters, consists of comprehensive inspections, supplemental inspections, follow-up inspections and tests. Our comprehensive inspections are just that…comprehensive. We look at all aspects of a regulated entity’s security program to determine their level of compliance with security regulations. Our supplemental inspections are snapshots of a regulated entity’s compliance with security regulations and are driven based upon their history of compliance, or in some cases, lack of it! If while we are inspecting we discover problems with security regulations, we document the issue as a finding and will conduct follow-up inspections at a later date. The follow-up inspection provides the regulated entity time to correct the procedure(s) and documents that compliance has been achieved, or in some cases, documents that the problem(s) persist and enforcement action will be initiated. Lastly, we will test, test and test! One of the best ways to see if a security program or measure is working is to simply try and defeat it. If we do, we discuss the results with the parties involved, figure out how to prevent it from happening again, and then conduct follow-up inspection activity to see if it’s resolved. TSA’s inspection philosophy is to ensure compliance through cooperative means. That’s where the TSI can really pay off! We routinely work directly with our industry partners providing guidance and assistance so we mutually achieve success. One thing is certain when speaking of these regulations and directives...there is more than one way to skin the cat! That’s why the TSI must use a critical eye, consider the factors and keep an open mind.

In addition to inspections, TSIs will respond to incidents that have occurred onboard an aircraft, within the sterile area, screening checkpoint or other airport locations. Sometimes, these incidents are not security related (smoking in a lavatory for instance) and the investigation will end there. However, if there is an incident that is security related, we work alongside our local and/or Federal Law Enforcement Officers to determine exactly what happened and will initiate an enforcement action if necessary.

Tomas asked about assignments and training and I’d like to elaborate a little on that as well. I am a TSI that works in aviation, therefore that is the main focus of my job. However, if needed, I can perform inspection work in the cargo world, or surface world...once I’ve been trained. Additionally, TSA has begun rolling out teams of TSIs that handle explosives detection canines, which in my opinion, is a great addition to the team! Speaking specifically of my office in Cincinnati, we work in teams and have designated team leaders. The team leader will ensure that the team is on track to complete our work on time, ensures consistency with headquarters requirements and serves as a mentor to other inspectors who may be gaining job knowledge.

What a great opportunity to segue into training huh? Now, it’s been nearly five years since I received my initial training and it has changed a bit since then, but here’s the low-down on my training experience. I attended my initial training at the Security Enforcement Training Academy at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, OK. I studied and lived there for four (4) weeks and received instruction concerning the CFRs, inspections, investigations, report preparation, airport operations as well as aircraft and foreign air carrier operations. The training was excellent and relevant to the position, meaning that when I graduated I felt prepared to do the job. When I got back to my home office (which at the time was fabulous Las Vegas!), I received excellent on-the-job training (OJT) from experienced TSIs, my direct supervisor and from my management. Now days, newly graduated TSIs receive formal OJT from designated OJT monitors which ensures standardized mentoring on the core functions of the job, but take it from me, there’s always something new just around the corner!

Lastly, I recall Tomas mentioning that he was curious about the supervision of TSIs, and just like other jobs, we have it! TSIs have a direct supervisor that monitors work product, provides guidance when needed, rates job performance, approves inspections and other reports and handles all the HR issues that may arise. Above the supervisor at the local level is an Assistant Federal Security Director for Inspections (AFSD/I). The AFSD/I is the program manager for a given airport’s compliance office, ensures the annual inspection work plan is carried out as directed and reports to the Federal Security Director (FSD). Sorry gang, I’ve gotten long again and must close my post out. Seriously, I could write quite a bit and would love to do so. Keep up the questions or comments and I’ll make my best effort to give you some straight talk about the TSI job…at least from my perspective. Thanks again and travel safe!

TSI Jim, guest EoS blogger

Anonymous said...

There are over 1500 TSIs and all the commenters on this blog can talk about is the ONE TSI that screwed up? That says volumes about the people reading this blog. Every workforce has workers who have done the wrong thing. That doesn't mean the whole workforce is guilty and capable of doing the same thing!
==========
One of 1500 who got caught and outed to the media when the TSA tried to fine the airline and commend the TSA agent. If its happened once its happened before.

Eric
One of the 5 or 6

RB said...

TSI Jim said...
First off, let me thank the many bloggers for the commentary on this subject...

........................
Jim, I have read both of your post with interest.

A thought about the training you received; I see no where that you listed any training on aircraft familiarization, aircraft safety or even flight line/ramp operations safety.

To my way of thinking you and your co-workers should never come in direct, unsupervised contact with an airplane or venture out of the terminal onto the operations side of an airport. You are a hazard to yourselves and anyone around you.

Your co-worker who used sensitive instrument probes to scale the side of an airplane supports my conclusion that TSI's are not trained properly.

Tomas said...

Yet Another Anonymous wrote...
The incident in Chicago with the TSI placing his foot on the piece of aircraft equipment DID result in delayed flights due to the aircraft having to be inspected, but the inspections turned up NO damage. Did the TSI screw up? Absolutely? And while the ends cannot justify the means, at least SEVEN American Eagle aircraft were identified as being unsecured. How would YOU feel about putting your loved ones on board an aircraft that had not been properly protected in accordance with established rules, which the airline was SUPPOSED to be following, but was not? Odd how everyone just seemed to gloss over that little tidbit.
________________

Another thing that those who recite that he apparently managed not to damage the aircraft, but just delayed hundreds of passengers' flights directly by his actions is that the aircraft were "unsecure" to someone wearing a TSI outfit INSIDE a secured area on the flightline.

The aircraft were not somewhere where your local terrorist can just step off a transit bus and climb aboard an aircraft. "Odd how everyone just seemed to gloss over that little tidbit."

Tom (1 or 5-6)

Anonymous said...

From Tomas:
The aircraft were not somewhere where your local terrorist can just step off a transit bus and climb aboard an aircraft. "Odd how everyone just seemed to gloss over that little tidbit."

Comment:
And bad guys don't jump airport boundary fences, psychos have NEVER been found sleeping on parked planes or in the cargo compartments. If a homeless psycho can do it, a determined terrorist would have no problem.

Anonymous said...

From Eric the Anonymous:
One of 1500 who got caught and outed to the media when the TSA tried to fine the airline and commend the TSA agent. If its happened once its happened before.
----------------

Eagle was putting out press releases and holding press conferences the DAY OF the incident, lambasting TSA. Not exactly a smart move when you're tearing into an entity that has oversight of you. It's kind of like telling the cop that just pulled you over for speeding that he should spend more time at Krispy Kreme, and then being surprised you got a ticket instead of a warning. TSA hadn't had the time to even do the paperwork on any kind of fine.

Anonymous said...

The incident in Chicago with the TSI placing his foot on the piece of aircraft equipment DID result in delayed flights due to the aircraft having to be inspected, but the inspections turned up NO damage. Did the TSI screw up? Absolutely? And while the ends cannot justify the means, at least SEVEN American Eagle aircraft were identified as being unsecured. How would YOU feel about putting your loved ones on board an aircraft that had not been properly protected in accordance with established rules, which the airline was SUPPOSED to be following, but was not? Odd how everyone just seemed to gloss over that little tidbit.

TSA doesn't get a pass. Even if Eagle had secured the aircraft properly, the consequences of the TSI's actions wouldn't have changed.

And TSA still wants to fine AA? That's like saying the house burned down because the kid forgot to do his homework.

RB said...

The aircraft were not somewhere where your local terrorist can just step off a transit bus and climb aboard an aircraft. "Odd how everyone just seemed to gloss over that little tidbit."

Tom (1 or 5-6)

March 8, 2009 12:42 PM

...................
Perhaps the aircraft are accessible, we know that TSA does not screen all people who enter the secure/operational areas of airports.

The biggest security blunder any so called professional security group could make!

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Anonymous @ "Just because the rules aren't published in a low-brow newspaper with pretty pie charts doesn't mean they are secret. If you REALLY want to read that stuff, Google Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1540, Part 1542, Part 1544, Part 1546, Part 1548, Part 1550, Part 1552. It's all there in black and white. But, you have to read the words. For the travelling passenger, the most applicable reference would be Part 1540 - that's the one that says passengers have to behave like responsible adults when going through security at the airport - a requirement which proves rather difficult to many travelers, as witness by some of the media reports."

and TSORon @ "The “rules” are clearly posted throughout every airport I have ever been in, not just in mine. "

##############

Which one of these rules has the words which allow a person to take a gel pack to cool some breast milk? I would have like to have had that accessible when the STL TSO supervisor confiscated the gel pack that we were planning on using to keep 13 oz of my wife's breast milk from spoiling.

Publishing "rules" on the ever-evolving TSA website is nothing but public relations--those editorials are neither authoritative nor complete, and they are not accessible at the point where the "rules" are used by TSOs to confiscate things.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
Eagle was putting out press releases and holding press conferences the DAY OF the incident, lambasting TSA.
=========
They had to put out a press release to explain why hundreds of passengers were delayed. The TSA agent was warned by airplane mechanics not to climb on the sensors. And did do in spite of the warning the problem lies with the TSA not the airline.

Anonymous #542 said...

I think it is the airliners fault for leaving the airplane unsecure so the TSI could shimmy up the probe. Sorry but if the airline had it secure like it was suppose to the TSI could never of climbed on the probes. Tough lesson learned. Think of it the same crazy way as how customs fines people. When CBP askes you a question about what you are traveling with and you lie about it or you don't tell them because you forgot they usually fine you a minimum fine of $300 for "Failure to declare"... once again a tough lesson learned.

TSORon said...

Another Anonymous poster said:

"That's a fairly high non-compliance rate. Is it even remotely possible that it's not entirely the fault of passengers?"

Not one bit, unless the individual is illiterate.

Everyone is given more than enough information on how to get through a check point from the moment they begin the travel process. Links to TSA web sites, advisements from the ticket agents, signs in airports, overhead announcements, etc. Even the illiterate can get assistance if they choose to.

TSORon said:
“We are going to be there for the day anyway, so if it takes a passenger 20 minutes to get through the divestment portion of the process we don’t mind. Its not out trip, its not our business meeting, and it certainly not a major concern for us.”

Anonymous said:
“If that statement exemplifies the attitude TSOs have toward passengers, the TSA deserves to be the agency everyone hates.”

How so? If the individual wants to take 20 minutes to get through the process who are we to tell them they cant? TSO’s are typically quite patient (at least at my airport), so we don’t feel a sense of urgency about getting a particular passenger through the process. They can go through at whatever pace they prefer or suits them best.

Anonymous said:
“The parts of the TSA that are readily visible to the public certainly don't inspire any confidence in the parts that aren't, like the TSIs.”

Opinions vary, and I’m sure that you have a reason for yours. My opinion is different, but then again I actually work with the folks on the checkpoint.

RB said...

Question for the guest TSI, is the turnover rate for TSI's as high as that of TSO's?

A. Librarian said...

Apparently, the court of the European Union has determined that passengers can't be expected to follow a list of items prohibited on planes if the list hasn't been published.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/news/article5880811.ece

"Judges ruled that the unpublished European Union list of items banned from hand luggage could not be enforced because passengers could not find out exactly what was prohibited."

It's a very interesting article.

Sandra said...

The United States needs to follow the lead of the European Union:

"A secret list of items banned from aircraft was declared invalid today after a tennis player won his case at the European Court of Justice against airport security staff who threw him off an aircraft because they said that his racquets posed a terrorist threat.

"Judges ruled that the unpublished European Union list of items banned from hand luggage could not be enforced because passengers could not find out exactly what was prohibited.

"The case highlighted what one legal adviser called the "fundamental absurdity" of European anti-terror regulations that outlawed a range of possible weapons from the aircraft cabin — but did not make public what they were, for security reasons.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/news/article5880811.ece

Anonymous said...

RB said...
Anonymous said...
There are over 1500 TSIs and all the commenters on this blog can talk about is the ONE TSI that screwed up? That says volumes about the people reading this blog. Every workforce has workers who have done the wrong thing. That doesn't mean the whole workforce is guilty and capable of doing the same thing!
March 6, 2009 9:24 AM
...................................
Is it just one TSI who screwed up? I think not!

********************************

Really RB, than please give me another example?

TSA has been talking about TSIs and their work for years. But the media doesn't report successes, only failures. Which explains why the public didn't know TSIs even existed until one TSI did something he shouldn't have. That, of course, made news.

Dunstan said...

"The case highlighted what one legal adviser called the "fundamental absurdity" of European anti-terror regulations that outlawed a range of possible weapons from the aircraft cabin — but did not make public what they were, for security reasons."

Ah, yes, Catch 22...

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions."

Joseph Heller had it right.

Bob said...

TSI Jay, please e-mail the blog @ tsablog@dhs.gov

Bob

EoS Blog Team

RB said...

Really RB, than please give me another example?
......................
Did this one TSI work in a vacum?

None of his co-workers were aware of his actions?

His supervisor was unaware of his actions?

He didn't report how he attempted to gain access to aircraft?

It was reported that this was not the first incidence of this type by this one individual, so others must have known yet no corrective action was taken.

Why is it that TSA will not supervise it's employees?

Is it just one TSI who screwed up? I think not!

TSI Jim said...

RB asked me: "is the turnover rate for TSI's as high as that of TSO's?"

To tell you the truth, I don't know what the TSI turnover rate is! I can speculate that it is not on par with TSO turnover simply based on the numbers (43,000 vs. 1,500), and the fact that within the 43,000 member TSO workforce you have part-time employees with a degree of “churn” whereas the TSI workforce is all full-timers. From my experience, when a TSI left the office, it was normally due to promotion either within the local airport staff or to another airport. In addition to that, TSIs will transfer from airport to airport as their life circumstances dictate...provided a vacancy exists. I was one of those intra-airport transfer/promotion guys and it was a costly endeavor, so I don’t foresee myself moving again anytime soon…especially with the housing market the way it is!

TSI Jim

Dunstan said...

"Additionally, TSA has begun rolling out teams of TSIs that handle explosives detection canines, which in my opinion, is a great addition to the team!"

Once again I'd like to suggest that you find your canine staff through Petfinder or other rescue means. There are many worthy dogs out there you could not only save, but could easily be trained to do the job. It would also be some very positive PR.

Ayn R. Key said...

Ah yes, the fines.

Now will someone at the TSA tell me how these fines square with the Administrative Procedures Act?

Anonymous said...

RB said...
Question for the guest TSI, is the turnover rate for TSI's as high as that of TSO's?

The turnover rate is practically zero. TSI is a professional career position, and most, if not all TSIs are in the job for a long time. Most TSIs are well educated, a majority having BA/BS degrees, with many advanced degrees. Many are private pilots. Some came from the aviation industry (station managers, etc.), while others served siginifcant time in our military. A few have law enforcement backgrounds, including former air marshals who got tired of flying. Some TSIs came over from the screening workforce, but many are hired from the public.

Many TSIs are legacy FAA Special Agents who, in the build-up of the Agency, were rolled into Inspector positions with the Air Marshal/Inspector seperation.

I take offense to some of the abhorrently ignorant comments of a minority few here who feel it's their duty as citizens to reject all that TSA does as evil. Alot of what has been written about the ORD incident is due to speculation of the media and bias (not in Chicago!). For all that wish to crucify the TSI involved, know that he was doing his job, and he did it well. He did nothing to you personally, and any alleged damage done is between TSA and American Eagle.

TSIs exist to regulate an industry that left to its own devices, would supplant your safety for a buck. Look to our current econ for examples of bad regulating.

Jay - One of Many TSIs said...

Although TSA is still a relative infant agency the TSI security roll has been in existence for much longer and was previously performed by the FAA. The majority of TSI leadership, many working TSIs, and the core training were carried over from the FAA when TSA came into existence. So we (TSIs) have a much longer and successful history than TSA alone. Let’s keep things in perspective, certain people seem to focus on only one publicized incident where a TSI used inappropriate parts of an aircraft to conduct a test, because of the nature of the work we do you will not hear our many success stories, how we have identified and worked with regulated entities of correct significant security concerns, how the knowledge from the FAA days has been brought forward and updated to counter the emerging security threats, or many of the other tasks we participate in such as augmenting FEMA and other agencies in emergency relief efforts and deploy to national emergencies with a few hours notice. Are we trained? Sure we are trained, and then trained again and then again. Our training programs are updated and modified on an ongoing basis to meet industry and our individual needs. But even with training things can still happen. Daily in the private sector, regardless of intensive safety programs, people are injured and at times killed in the workplace. The airport ramp area is nothing but an obstacle course of potential life threatening hazards and air carrier employees, who receive significant safety training, are still injured. As a TSI I don’t take my presence around aircraft lightly, we know the hazards we face daily and each of us wants to go home to our families at night. TSA has frequently gotten bad press and for some reason no one will ever let it go. Admittedly errors have been made but so have they in other areas of the government and private sector. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life ranting and raving about Bank failures and how all of that industry is corrupt and dangerous. I recall many, many, many, years ago when I joined the Marine Corp the big issue was how a DI had caused the death of a recruit. A single incident doesn’t devalue or require the elimination of an entire organization like some posters seem to desire. We learn from our mistakes and modify our operations like other organizations by sharing and implementing Best Practices and Lessons Learned. To those that ask are we trained – yes we are trained and yes we are dedicated to our work regardless of how unrecognized we are. We know we make a difference and that we help protect those of you who can do nothing but criticize us. With that said I would encourage you to set aside issues from the past and move forward with the rest of us to make this a better and safer world.

TSI Jim said...

RB commented about my most recent post/reply concerning the training program for TSIs and I’d like to delve further into that if I may. Again, I reiterate that my training experience was a little while ago, so my commentary is squarely rooted in that experience. About two months prior to my core training at the FAA in OK, I began my OJT cycle at my airport (LAS) and was assigned to a team of journey level inspectors following a regimented training program outlined by my direct supervisor. In the beginning of my training program, I was mentored quite a bit on the CFRs, the myriad of security directives and emergency amendments in effect at the time as well as the airport’s security program. The angle of course was to provide a green inspector such as myself with the baseline knowledge of “why” things are the way they are and how an inspector will know if something isn’t right. The second part of my local training program was focused on the actual inspection process…the meat and potatoes of the job per se. Again, paired up with a journey level inspector, I tagged along, observed, took notes and began to develop my own personal inspection “style”. I say “style” because I quickly learned that no two inspections are alike due to all the factors involved, the largest being the human factor. Regulations, rules and procedures are great, and coming from a corrections background, my ability to see the black and white was well established! However, I quickly found that the inspection game is quite different and although we are squarely rooted in the regulations, assessing a person’s job knowledge to that effect cannot be conducted in the same manner...I know, I know, big surprise! Most memorable for me was the first time I was given a guided tour of the ramp at LAS. For those that don’t know, the ramp is where aircraft are parked or operate from a gate to a taxiway and vice versa. The ramp area is distinct from aircraft movement areas such as taxiways or runways, and you will not see inspectors in aircraft movement areas, excluding our friends at the FAA. I was accompanied by my supervisor and two inspectors, all of which were retired/former airline employees and two of which were former FAA inspectors with countless years of experience between them. They taught me the finer points of aircraft operations and ramp safety procedures. I think it was very effective for me because their training approach was direct and relied upon their combined knowledge and experience working in and around the various types of aircraft that serviced LAS which continues to serve me well to this very day. Shortly after that, I took off for core training at the FAA in OK. Since I went over my core training experience in my previous post, I won’t bore you with telling that tale again! Fast forward to the completion of my core training program…head full of knowledge, new personal and professional relationships forged, and thanks to my two months of “pre-training training”, I was able to hit the ground running from the get go. Okay, so I’m out of my core training and ready to take on my duties as a newly minted TSI. I vividly remember my first comprehensive inspection (cue the dream like harp music)…there I was, three months on the job sitting across the table from an airline station manager who’s been in the business almost as long as I’ve been alive! I’m pretty sure he knew I was the new kid on the block and if I ever see him again, I’ll thank him for going easy on me! He’s rattling off answers like there’s a teleprompter directly in front of him and I’m anxiously jotting down notes, answers and comments. I learned a lot that day…about me and about the industry I was now charged with regulating. As the months go by, I become more independent and more knowledgeable. Then came the day that I had to conduct inspections in the late night hours and once again I found myself paired up with a senior inspector to teach me the ropes for airport operations at night. Those of you that either work or travel in the evening know exactly what I’m talking about! As was the previous training experience for me, my mentor was retired airline and former FAA, so I got some of the best training on ramp operations, aircraft operations and safety measures that money could buy! There’s nothing like a busy airfield at night and believe it or not, to this day I wouldn’t trade it for the world! In addition to the direct training and mentoring I received by my colleagues at LAS, the airport provides every employee that works the ramp with ramp safety training. When I transferred to CVG, the airport provided me CVG specific ramp safety training/aircraft safety training via online video based training in conjunction with printed material. As you can see, the training for TSIs is much more than a four week hurtle at the FAA in OK. In my opinion, a TSI never really stops learning about this industry because this industry is dynamic and constantly changing, therefore, so must the TSI. I’m getting long again, so I’ll wrap up here. Keep those questions and comments coming and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!

TSI Jim, guest EoS blogger

Anonymous said...

"For all that wish to crucify the TSI involved, know that he was doing his job, and he did it well."

Only if his job was to DAMAGE AIRPLANES.

"He did nothing to you personally, and any alleged damage done is between TSA and American Eagle."

No. The damage this incompetent TSI did is between him and the CITIZENS WHOSE LIVES WERE ENDANGERED BY HIS ACTIONS. As always, TSA is a bigger threat than anything they're claiming to be protecting us from.

Jim Huggins said...

Jay - One Of Many TSIs writes:

Let’s keep things in perspective, certain people seem to focus on only one publicized incident where a TSI used inappropriate parts of an aircraft to conduct a test, because of the nature of the work we do you will not hear our many success stories [...]

and later:

A single incident doesn’t devalue or require the elimination of an entire organization like some posters seem to desire.

Then why do Blogger Bob and company feel the need to brag about the one recent incident where one passenger tried to concel four ounces of lotion, which was caught by screeners using an MMW machine? After all, there were probably a million passengers that day alone who didn't try to smuggle bottled lotion in their pants. Why focus on the one person who did?

Fair is fair. TSA demands that passengers (and airlines, for that matter) follow the rules perfectly, every time --- and holds them out for public ridicule on its homepage via its "Week At A Glance" tally. If passengers and airlines have to be perfect, so should TSA employees. And if that means that TSA employees get painted with a broad brush they don't deserve ... well, then, perhaps you know how passengers feel when we get tarred with the same brush.

RB said...

To TSI Jim & Jay.

My questions regarding your training was directed to actual aircraft specific training; such as this is a pitot tube and is part of the airplanes instrumentation, these holes in the side of the airplane are static ports and should not be messed with, this port is a high pressure vent and could hurt you and so forth.

I have no doubt that you are trained on many things but the actions of the guy at Chicago would raise the question on that one aspect of training.

It could be just one incident but if TSI's are not given aircraft safety training then you should not be around airplanes unless escorted.

If you are given aircraft safety training that makes the Chicago incident that much worse, the TSI knew better!

Finally, I have wondered, do TSI's work in a vacuum. How could co-workers and supervisors not have known of this persons actions?
It was also reported that airline workers had cautioned this person to not use the probes as handholds.

A single incidence does not require shutting down the whole program but it does cause the light of day to be focused on the program.

The public has been kept in the dark about the Chicago event.

That one persons actions did result in the grounding of several aircraft and peoples lives were placed in potential jeopardy.

Anonymous said...

And it goes on and on and on, it sounds as though we have either a trained aircraft mechanic, pilot or someone obviously envolved in the maintenance side of aircraft continually bashing TSA.
Don't get me wrong, i'm not minimizing your complaint against the TSI as he/she certainly she be held accountable for his inept actions. There is no excuse for endangering the lives of passengers or anyone else aboard that aircraft.
However I am beginning to think that many of these airline personel are just plan bitter and have an axe to grind with anyone associated with TSA. Could it be that these same personel didnt make the cut to join the TSA workforce??...
Please people, get over it get on with your lives and let TSA do there jobs...

Tomas said...

Yet Another Anonymous wrote...
And it goes on and on and on, it sounds as though we have either a trained aircraft mechanic, pilot or someone obviously envolved [sic] in the maintenance side of aircraft continually bashing TSA.
Don't get me wrong, i'm not minimizing your complaint against the TSI as he/she certainly she be held accountable for his inept actions. There is no excuse for endangering the lives of passengers or anyone else aboard that aircraft.
However I am beginning to think that many of these airline personel are just plan bitter and have an axe to grind with anyone associated with TSA. Could it be that these same personel didnt make the cut to join the TSA workforce??...

________________

I'm not who you are referencing there, but I do agree with the folks who focus on a TSI repeatedly scaling commercial aircraft using external probes as handholds and steps (he admitted to doing many more prior to being caught). That should not have happened under any circumstances if that TSI were adequately trained and supervised. Period.

I'm not airline personnel, I'm a retired engineer, but before becoming an engineer I was USAF flightline maintenance and worked on B52, B58, F100, F4, and SR71 aircraft.

Before I was allowed to so much as touch one of 'em I had to be trained in that specific aircraft, and until I was considered competent in doing anything on my own with them, I was always under the direct supervision of another tech who was qualified on the aircraft.

To become qualified I had to have supervised OJT, and pass both written and physical tests on the aircraft. By the time I was allowed to work on my own around any aircraft, I was well trained. This was above and beyond basic flightline safety.

(Later as a private pilot I would not want to have an inadequately trained, tested and supervised TSI anywhere NEAR my aircraft...)

It is OBVIOUS that the TSI in question did not have this level of rigorous training and qualification, and if HE did not, I feel sure there are others.

Some, maybe even most, TSIs are obviously dedicated, trained, experienced aircraft folks, there is AT LEAST ONE who was not, and if one was not, there is an excellent chance he is not the only one.

Something was decidedly broken in the training, testing, experience and supervision of that one TSI, and it is HIGHLY unlikely that the failure of training, testing, experience or supervision affected only the one TSI.

That is why we, the flying public, have every right to know that the problems have been found and corrected, and that all TSIs possibly affected have had their training, testing, experience and supervision looked and and fixed if necessary.

So far, the public response from the TSA has only been to congratulate the TSI for his dedication and job well done. There has been absolutely no public mention of finding and fixing problems any problems with TSI training, testing, experience and supervision.

THAT is why we keep bringing it up. THAT is why it won't die. The correction of the problem(s) has not been publicly addressed - we have not received the assurances from the TSA that any problem has been fixed - we have not received what we have every right to expect from a government agency.

Tom (1 of 5-6)

RB said...

Anonymous said...
And it goes on and on and on, it sounds as though we have either a trained aircraft mechanic, pilot or someone obviously envolved in the maintenance side of aircraft continually bashing TSA.
...................
No sure if your saying that I work in the aviaton industry but be sure I do not. I work in the financial industry but even I know that certain parts of airplanes are not to be used as hand holds.

That is exactly the point, just how qualified are these TSI's?

To not know the sensative areas of a large aircraft points to a very unqualified person.

I'm a passenger on these aircraft and I do not want some clown using the exterior of an airplane for his jungle gym.

I still wonder just what kind of supervision is used in the TSA.

Apparently very little!!

Jay - One of Many TSIs said...

Jim Huggins asks:
Then why do Blogger Bob and company feel the need to brag about the one recent incident where one passenger tried to concel four ounces of lotion, which was caught by screeners using an MMW machine? After all, there were probably a million passengers that day alone who didn't try to smuggle bottled lotion in their pants. Why focus on the one person who did?

I can’t speak for Bob but I find it reassuring that new technology being deployed for security screening is working. This is only one example that TSA continues to work towards improving the security screening process and uses my tax dollars wisely. Four ounces of lotion is only one example of thousands and prior to the MMW it may not have been found. You only need to look beyond the blog to get a larger perspective of the quantity of prohibited items intercepted by the Transportation Security Officers (TSO). This time it was lotion, what might it be next time? I am one of those that have been around since the inception of TSA and the continuing growth of the TSO technology tools to do their job is impressive. The TSOs have a highly challenging job where they work their hardest to catch every potential threat that my be presented by a very creative and unknown opponent. If they find that concealed four ounces of lotion then they will find a small but devastating piece of explosive material.

RB asks:
Finally, I have wondered, do TSI's work in a vacuum. How could co-workers and supervisors not have known of this persons actions?

No we do not work in a vacuum but we do work independently and at times depending on our assignments we may be spread rather thin. The number of TSI Supervisors are very limited and staffing does not always permit two TSIs being dedicated to the same inspection. One of the factors for selection as a TSI is the ability to work with minimal supervision and as a TSI becomes more seasoned they work much more independently. Keep in mind that we are working in the real world where the unexpected can and does occur at the least opportune time. There are unusual things we encounter that could not be anticipated for in training material. As TSI Jim said we are constantly learning. I have trained a whole lot of law enforcement and security personnel in my time and even when you have tutored them and walked them around by they hand they will still make mistakes. And from this we have our “Lessons Learned” so we don’t make the same mistake twice. As for the Chicago incident and what specifically happened I cannot address that, but I know that it has been address by TSA.

matthew said...

Thanks Jim for giving me a better understanding of TSI. I think its great that TSI is under survelience and duty behind the scenes. This way we cac catch terrorist before they hurt others.

Anonymous said...

"As for the Chicago incident and what specifically happened I cannot address that, but I know that it has been address by TSA."

Since I PAY YOUR SALARY, how about sharing with the rest of us?

RB said...

Jay - One of Many TSIs said...

RB asks:
Finally, I have wondered, do TSI's work in a vacuum. How could co-workers and supervisors not have known of this persons actions?

No we do not work in a vacuum but we do work independently and at times depending on our assignments we may be spread rather thin. The number of TSI Supervisors are very limited and staffing does not always permit two TSIs being dedicated to the same inspection. One of the factors for selection as a TSI is the ability to work with minimal supervision and as a TSI becomes more seasoned they work much more independently. Keep in mind that we are working in the real world where the unexpected can and does occur at the least opportune time. There are unusual things we encounter that could not be anticipated for in training material. As TSI Jim said we are constantly learning. I have trained a whole lot of law enforcement and security personnel in my time and even when you have tutored them and walked them around by they hand they will still make mistakes. And from this we have our “Lessons Learned” so we don’t make the same mistake twice. As for the Chicago incident and what specifically happened I cannot address that, but I know that it has been address by TSA.

March 14, 2009 8:14 AM

...........................
Thanks Jay for your response. However I have asked several times if TSI's get trained on basic aircraft safety and no one has responded to that question. I have to believe that you do not!

You go on to say that TSA addressed the Chicago event. They may have but the resolution was not made public and to my way of thinking the issue is open and will continue to be open until the public is assured that an event like that will not happen again.

The government has an absolute responsibility to report to the public and TSA fails in this area.

That being said I do appreciate what you do.

Anonymous said...

In answer to this statement: "Since I PAY YOUR SALARY, how about sharing with the rest of us?"

Technically, they pay their own salary, as do other federal employees. Also, as a tax payer, you contribute to all federal employees salaries, including the President. Not all information is shared with the public because you do not have a need to know. Just because you think you have a need or a right to know everything, doesn't make it so.

Irish said...

Anonymous said...

“ ‘In answer to this statement: "Since I PAY YOUR SALARY, how about sharing with the rest of us?" ’

“Technically, they pay their own salary, as do other federal employees. Also, as a tax payer, you contribute to all federal employees salaries, including the President. Not all information is shared with the public because you do not have a need to know. Just because you think you have a need or a right to know everything, doesn't make it so.”


No. They don’t. And neither do I. As a (non-TSA and non-federal) government employee myself, I cringe every time I see this argument.

Withholding taxes are a percentage of salary. A percentage is a “piece” – in this case probably somewhere around 20% or so. Even assuming their withholding goes exclusively toward paying their own salaries, a piece of the whole can never equal (much less exceed) the whole, by definition.

I do not pay my own salary through my local and state withholding, and a little piece of my federal taxes goes to pay the salaries of federal employees. Ergo, I pay their salaries, just as the local and state taxpayers pay the lion’s share of mine. I WORK FOR MY LOCAL TAXPAYERS. THEY PAY MY SALARY.

TSA works for ME and all of the other federal taxpayers. WE pay the lion’s share of their salaries. And who do you thinks is paying for all that fancy, ineffective equipment? The federal taxpayers.

Irish

TSORon said...

Irish, you pay a very small portion of my salary, no larger and no smaller than I pay, or anyone else who pays taxes. This does not mean that I work for you, nor for myself. I work for the TSA. The benefits of my labor are enjoyed by every single passenger and aircrew member who fly’s out of my airport and those who live under the flight path of those aircraft that leave my airport. They expect me to do my job, as do you. I do the best that I can, no less. I am one layer of the total security that attempts to ensure the safety of those who fly. I depend on those others to do their job, just as you do. They don’t work for you either. Sure would be nice if we had leading edge equipment, but we don’t. Not enough money. So we get it slowly, and usually several generations behind the whole “leading edge” thing. The equipment is also only one layer of the total security that goes into the public air transport system.

I earn my paycheck just as you earn yours. Its my money. And I use some of it to pay my taxes, just as you do, because I am a Federal Tax Payer, just like you. Cringe all you like, but the facts are the facts.

Anonymous said...

So, an unanswered question still remains unanswered. Who paid for the aircraft damaged by an out of control TSI employee to be repaired? Was this TSI employee reprimanded in any way? Was this TSI employee given further training as dealing with expensive aircraft?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
So, an unanswered question still remains unanswered. Who paid for the aircraft damaged by an out of control TSI employee to be repaired? Was this TSI employee reprimanded in any way? Was this TSI employee given further training as dealing with expensive aircraft?

March 22, 2009 5:13 PM
.....................
The bigger unanswered question is do TSI's receive any specific aircraft training.

With the silence this question has met I would quess not.

That means TSA allows aircraft access to people who don't know the difference between the pointy end and the tail end.

That is exactly how a TSI climbing up the side of an aircraft did not know why that was a bad idea.

Not trained!! Not qualified!!

That should comfort everyone.

Irish said...

TSORon said...

"Irish, you pay a very small portion of my salary, no larger and no smaller than I pay, or anyone else who pays taxes."

I guess that depends on how much each of us ante's up on April 15th. ;o)


"This does not mean that I work for you, nor for myself. I work for the TSA."

You're employed by the TSA. You work for all of the citizens and for the taxpayers who contribute to your salary. You see, Ron, I view it as a fundamental flaw in TSA's structure that they don't make this distinction crystal clear to their workforce. We're all ultimately answerable to whoever funds our paychecks. In my job, I receive some grant monies. I'm responsible to account for those grant monies and spend them wisely. If the granting agency makes a demand of me within the parameters of that grant, then their wishes trump the wishes of the agency that directly employs me because that's where the money came from and that's who I'm ultimately accountable to. In the same way, because government employees (all of us) are mostly paid by the taxpayers (all of them), we're ultimately answerable to the taxpayers. As distasteful as this may sometimes seem, it is as it is.

In any case, what I'm cringing about is the idea that any government employee pays his/her own salary. Of course you do not (meaning, the "universal you", not you, personally). Just as I do not.

Irish

Anonymous said...

I will answer the question regarding the training that TSIs receive regarding aircraft safety. The majority of TSIs come from an airline background; meaning they have spent many years working for the air carriers and are previously trained by the air carriers on safety. I, myself came to TSA with 17 years of airline experience. That is not the case for all TSIs. The ones without airline experience go through several weeks of training that does not include aircraft safety. Those TSIs, at my location (I can't speak for all locations) are teamed up with an experienced TSI prior to being turned loose.

Is there talk of including that training in the future, yes.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
I will answer the question regarding the training that TSIs receive regarding aircraft safety. The majority of TSIs come from an airline background; meaning they have spent many years working for the air carriers and are previously trained by the air carriers on safety. I, myself came to TSA with 17 years of airline experience. That is not the case for all TSIs. The ones without airline experience go through several weeks of training that does not include aircraft safety. Those TSIs, at my location (I can't speak for all locations) are teamed up with an experienced TSI prior to being turned loose.

Is there talk of including that training in the future, yes.

March 24, 2009 6:30 PM

..............................
Thanks for the information.

So it is possible for a TSI to gain access to aircraft with no formal aircraft safety training.

In most companies allowing such would be considered negligence bordering on crimminal negligence.

The only question remaining, what actual aircraft training did the TSI who caused the Chicago incident have?

Anonymous said...

AH,

If all it takes to take out an aircraft is to bend a pitot or two, then TSA needs to triple their staff to make a ring around every aircraft in the US, like the Air Force does with live loaded fighters and bombers. Aren't the air crews supposed to do, an, I don't know, a PREFLIGHT?? Shouldn't they catch a damaged TAT during that point? Do you really even need the TAT (no).

But go ahead, keep lambasting TSA, because it's what makes you feel good about yourself. And, I love the comment that passengers have to get it 100% right each and every time. I'd like to see them get it right, once!

Patrick said...

I have applied for a TSI-Aviation position at USA Jobs. I am looking to work in Detroit. Does anyone have any insight as to how the process will progress? I get the feeling that they are just collecting applications. I was an USAF AWACS surveillance operator and a Gulf War Vet. I am hoping that will give me a fighting chance at the job.

Any input would appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I was recently hired as a TSI. I have a security forces background, accident investigation and Air Force civil service. In the end, I think it depends on the amount of your background which is relevant to the position.

Anonymous said...

I have five kids and they are really good kids...except for my oldest son...he's the troublemaker. The other kids have pretty good common sense...not my son. The others understand the importance of safety around the home and generally don't worry me...can't say the same for my son. Do I need to sit all of my kids down in a circle and tell them not to jump off of tall ladders, not to touch the stove when it's hot, not to open the engine compartment of the car, not to do anything which would upset Dad? No, not all of my kids, just my son. Is it that I'm not training him right? No, it's just that he likes to push the envelope and he doesn't think about the consequences of his actions until its too late. So what do you do? I make a decision on whether I need to train the rest of my kids a different way or just advise them of what he did so they know not to do it too. As far as commercial aircraft are concerned, you have tons of support people working around them. Baggage guys, maintenance, fuels, people driving to & from other terminals, etc. Most of them know not to mess with the airplane; not because someone pointed out all the areas they should stay away from but because they have common sense. I'm sure that after the incident occurred, all the TSI's were told about it and warned not to do it. That's all you need. You don't need pitot tube training, especially if your job doesn't involve pitot tubes. If training were added for every bad thing that could happen, you'd never do your job because you'd always be training. Why can't you make the whole plane like you make the black box? Because it wouldn't fly!! Instead, train pilots to be good pilots, mechanics to be good mechanics and TSI's to be good inspectors. Don't make all pilots do water landings because there's a possibility of landing on water.

James Smith said...

I surely can't imagine anyone that would find being a TSA agent a wonderful career. Sounds like a very thankless frustrating job. However that being said surely we can apply a little more common sense to the job and serve both agents and the public better. Perhaps put some of those high tech scanner dollars into a system that allows frequent fliers to pass through more quickly.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post but I was curious what the typical schedule/shifts/rotating shifts were of TSIs. Are they bid shifts? Required rotating? Any idea of typical schedules of TSIs would be helpful. Thanks!