Increased Oversight Part Of The Deal
Over one million workers in the
aviation industry -- including pilots, technicians, and flight
attendants -- will soon have to answer background questions posed
by the Transportation Security Administration.
According to USA Today, the TSA will take over the job of
checking background information of 1.2 million aviation employees
from the FAA, which has had the job since the September 11, 2001
With the new agency, comes increased scrutiny. Under the TSA's
watch, every licensed aviation worker will be checked against the
government's "watch list," maintained by the FBI, instead of the
partial list maintained by the FAA. Worker backgrounds will not
only be checked when applying for a job, but every time the
computerized database is updated -- which occurs almost daily.
TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said such "perpetual vetting"
measures "will raise the baseline of security."
It does appear that baseline needs to be raised. As ANN reported earlier this
month, federal and local law enforcement agents raided
numerous warehouses around Chicago's O'Hare International Airport,
and arrested 24 illegal workers suspected of using phony security
badges to work in restricted areas around the airport -- the latest
evidence of systemic flaws in the security grid at that
Last month, a former Comair worker based in Orlando was
sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to smuggle guns and
drugs on a Delta Connection/Comair flight to Puerto Rico in March.
Thomas Anthony Munoz, 22, was arrested when he was found to have 13
handguns, an assault rifle and eight clear bags of marijuana, as ANN reported.
The change was met with cautious approval from pilot groups, who
approve of the TSA's plans in theory. Some fear TSA bungling may
confuse legitimate applicants with names on the watch list, though,
preventing people from working.
"It would seem to be a logical step for the TSA," said Capt. Bob
Hesselbein, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association's national
security committee, before adding "We don't know that their
processes will not misidentify people who are not a danger as a