U.S. Pilot Risk-Based Screening to Expand, Airlines Say

A program that gets U.S. pilots through security faster by relying on already-completed criminal background checks will expand beyond seven airports this year, an airline industry group said.

Airlines for America, representing such companies as Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines Co. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines Inc., will hire Arinc Inc., a unit of the Washington-based Carlyle Group, to provide technology and software as the Known Crewmember program expands, said Tom Hendricks, the group’s senior vice president for security, safety and operations.

Arinc, based in Annapolis, Maryland, has been operating a rival pilot-screening program, known as Crewpass, at three U.S. airports since 2008.

“The expansion of risk-based programs like Known Crewmember is making travel easier for our passengers and employees,” Nicholas Calio, president and chief executive officer of Washington-based Airlines for America, said in a statement.

About 340,000 pilots have been cleared for flights through a Known Crewmember test at airports including Boston Logan International and Chicago’s O’Hare International, the trade group and the Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement.

“This system will ensure a safe and secure work environment for all professional airline pilots, recognizing their backgrounds and qualifications,” said Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association International, a labor union representing 53,000 pilots at 37 U.S. and Canadian airlines.

TSA Request

Known Crewmember began operating last August at O’Hare, the second-busiest U.S. airport by passenger traffic. The expanded program will be managed by Airlines for America and marketed to member and non-member airlines, Hendricks said.

“I would expect all large airports in the U.S. to be included in this program,” Hendricks said in an interview.

Airlines for America has asked the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to include flight attendants in the program, according to the statement.

TSA supports the industry’s efforts to implement a new screening system that will connect employee databases and enable agency personnel to verify pilots’ identities, Greg Soule, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“This new system is a key component as we continue to explore more risk-based, intelligence-driven security solutions,” Soule said.

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