Chicago O’Hare new crew ID check process sparks controversy

Chicago O’Hare International Airport will start testing new security check lines for airlines crew members this summer. During the first phase of testing only the pilots will be allowed to use speedy security lines. New test proceudre is based on employee ID cards and airline employment database as opposed to extensive biometric tests used in the past. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) explains the new procedure as a step towards risk based screening rather than full screened passenger like approach.
This new ID check, called KnownCrew, has sparked controversy even before the tests satrted. Robert Poole, director of transportation studies at the Reason Foundation said “If somebody has forged a driver’s license and a phony airline ID card of a current employee, that is a major loophole,”. Biometric mesaures like finger print is by far more accurate way to prove identity than ID card, driver’s license or airline photo ID badge. Even if the ID card itself is strongly protected with the latest security features matching a person to the ID badge is matter of interpretaion.
It’s generally agreed that pilots and other crewmembers should have some sort of privillege while passing the airport security as it is part of their work and sometimes they need to do it number of times a day. Identity check even when includes taking a photo and scanning a fingerprint takes relatively little time when compared to taking off shoes, jacket, belt, removing laptops from the bag etc. It doesn’t sound very reasonable to search pilot belongings for nail clipper with 2″ foldable knife while there is a a 5 feet axe in every passenger plane cockpit. A properly balanced Identity check, including ID badge verification, database check and even photograph with fingerprint combined with less extensive personal belongings search might more appropriate solution than KnowCrew approach and wouldn’t raise security concerns.

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