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Do Flight Crew Members Undergo Security Checks Similar to Passengers?

Do flight crew members, including pilots and flight attendants, undergo security checks similar to passengers? The vetting process for aircraft crew involves identity and security screenings as part of their employment requirements. Additionally, they are subject to multiple security and identification verifications at airports. Let’s figure it out!

On April 7, 1994, FedEx DC-10 flight engineer Auburn Calloway, facing termination for falsifying flight hours, smuggled weapons aboard Flight 705, attacking the crew. Despite injuries and significant damage to the aircraft, the flight landed safely. This incident underscores the necessity for crew security checks.

Photo by Peter Bakema

In response, the United States implemented the Known Crew Member (KCM) program, allowing pilots and flight attendants to undergo thorough background checks. This enables them to bypass standard security via a designated entry by presenting identification, facilitating quicker access to secure areas.

However, strict regulations exist within this system. Crew members traveling in civilian clothes must adhere to the same liquid restrictions as regular passengers and cannot use their status to transport items for others through security.

Photo by Svitlana Hulko | iStock

The Association of Flight Attendants, through the Flight Attendant United Master Executive Council, says on KCM that it’s an expedited security process that verifies the identity and employment of crew members, highlighting its importance and the collective responsibility to adhere to its guidelines to preserve this privilege.

Known Crew Member (KCM) is a program allowing for expedited security screening and clearance to sterile areas for Crew Members. The structure of KCM enables TSA security officers to positively verify the identity and employment status of authorized crew members. It is a privilege we have all come to value. Attempted use of the program outside the established parameters puts all of us at risk of losing the privilege.”

Exceptions exist where crew members may be randomly selected for additional security checks alongside passengers.

Photo by simonmayer | iStock

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has reconsidered the continuation of specific expedited screening programs, opting instead to update regulations with added criteria for participation. This adjustment aims to counteract potential insider threats by tightening security measures.

Regardless of the method—be it a fast-track program or a separate security checkpoint—all crew members are subject to screening. Debate persists over various requirements, and given the dynamic nature of the industry, modifications to security protocols are anticipated in the future.

Featured image by LightFieldStudios | istock

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