The number of airline crewmembers processed through the “Known Crewmember” (KCM) security screening program at U.S. airports doubled after it expanded to include flight attendants in October. Last summer, when only pilots could participate, the TSA screened 55,000 to 60,000 crewmembers at KCM checkpoints each week. Since flight attendants became eligible, the number jumped to 120,000 weekly, according to Douglas Hofsass, TSA assistant administrator in charge of “risk based” security initiatives.
Hofsass, speaking at an aviation security conference in Arlington, Virginia, on December 10, said 28 airports now have KCM screening locations. As more flight attendants join the program, the TSA expects to process 170,000 uniformed crewmembers through the system each week by February. “What that means for [next year] is that about 8.5 million screening experiences will not be done at the [airport security] checkpoint, but will be done through KCM portals, and that’s just assuming a footprint of 28 locations,” Hofsass said.
Developed by Airlines for America (A4A) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) with support from the TSA, the KCM system integrates airline employee databases, enabling TSA screeners to verify the identity of an airline crewmember. The crewmember must appear in uniform to use a KCM “access portal,” which may run separately from the passenger screening lanes. The crewmember presents both a company identification and a photo ID (passport or driver’s license) to the TSA screener, who confirms that person’s identity and employment status through the system. “KCM is the best example of the full evolution of risk-based security,” Hofsass said. “What Known Crewmember represents is taking a known and trusted population and removing the footprint of the checkpoint process altogether.”
An earlier version of the system called the Crew Personnel Advanced Screening System (CrewPass) operated for about three years at Baltimore Washington International, Pittsburgh International and Columbia, S.C., Metropolitan airports. The KCM “proof of concept” program started at Chicago O’Hare and Miami International airports in August 2011. Earlier this year, the TSA authorized KCM as a standing program.
In July, the TSA and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Transport Workers Union and A4A announced plans to begin the second phase of the KCM program by allowing access to flight attendants. The AFA announced on October 22 that 25,000 flight attendants at United Airlines had joined the program. A KCM website sponsored by ALPA and A4A lists 40 participating airlines; so far flight attendants at 13 carriers have joined the system.