Pilot Screening Program at O’Hare to Take-off

Aviation experts warn terrorists could manipulate a flaw in the system

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Airline pilots traveling through O'Hare will fly through security under a new screening program being tested this summer.

"KnownCrew" will require TSA screeners to use laptops to check a pilot's photo ID badge and driver's license against his or her pictures stored in an employee database. The pilot must also input his or her ID numbers as a security measure, the Chicago Tribune's Getting Around columnist Jon Hilkevitch reports.  

A TSA agent will not search a pilot or his or her carry-on luggage if the pilot meets all the steps with flying colors.

Some aviation experts point out a security flaw in the system that terrorists could manipulate.

"If somebody has forged a driver's license and a phony airline ID card of a current employee, that is a major loophole, said Robert Poole, director of transportation studies at the Reason Foundation. 

But the Air Transport Association, which represents airlines, and the Air Line Pilots Association International, which is the country's largest pilots union, stand by the tests they're backing.

"It's certainly not to the degree of an iris scan or fingerprint, but we would say a photo can serve as a clear identifier of a person in combination with the information in the database," said Air Spokesperson Steve Lott.

Officials hope shortening the security check-in for pilots will speed up the process of getting passengers to the gate.

Faster screening of flight attendants will happen later down the road.

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