US airline pilots to skirt weapons check


WASHINGTON – The US Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday it will launch a test program to check pilot’s airline identification instead of weapons screening.

The test at three random airports means the 75,000 national airline pilots can skip passenger screening and instead go through a separate checkpoint where TSA officials check only an identification card, USA Today said.

Critics, including the flight attendants’ union, say the new measure exposes the cockpit to terrorists posing as pilots. But the Airline Pilots Association says the screening is “demoralizing” and unnecessary because a pilot doesn’t necessarily need weapons to do harm with an airplane once it’s hijacked.

Pete Janhunen, a spokesman for the pilot’s union, said the screening “has just worn on them,” adding “You trust them to fly a multimillion-dollar airplane, and yet a TSA inspector with little training, little experience has the ability to strip-search them for gels.”

TSA screeners under the test program would check a pilot’s photo identification card issued by their airline against a database to verify their identities.