December 1, 2022
The Honorable David Pekoske Administrator
Transportation Security Administration
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Dear Administrator Pekoske:
In response to your statement today and recent media reports, I am writing to express my significant concerns indicating that TSA had decided to transition the Known Crewmember Program (KCM) to TSA under an Expedited Crew Access program. While we have heard rumors of this for the past week or so, just today we saw a formal announcement by TSA and it clearly states that TSA has been working with Airlines for America, but no other stakeholders. As a founding member and trusted partner in the program, ALPA is greatly troubled that we have not been included in any discussion of this change to KCM, nor afforded any opportunity to contribute to the advancement and improvement of a program we helped design and implement. The lack of communication and coordination with TSA over KCM has been an ongoing concern for ALPA. As the world’s largest non-governmental safety organization, representing over 66,000 professional airline pilots in the United States and Canada, the lack of communication, engagement, and inclusiveness in KCM discussions and policy flies in the face of common sense when you consider the vast resources and experience that ALPA has brought to the table.
While we understand that the increase in the Unpredictable Screening Procedure (USP) is based on KCM rule violations, and we have taken steps that both TSA and A4A are aware of to address these issues and ensure a safe and secure work environment. As you know, violations of KCM rules are not limited to pilots and flight attendants, with some airlines actually adding non-flight management to the program in the past. Overall, we understand that the total number of violations is less than 1% of the total KCM screenings, and while your administration does not seem fit to share the data you say justifies increased screenings, we question what percentage of positive screenings can be attributed to ALPA pilots.
As the Pilot in Command, we are the final arbiter of safety and security and we bring invaluable resources and expertise to the agency, but ALPA and airline pilots have once again been completely cut out of the discussion, a trend that has continued for more than 4 years under your leadership. This appears to be a management initiative that has intentionally cut labor out.
ALPA should be a fully regulated party that is included in these critical discussions as we represent the most screened and scrutinized employee group in aviation. We have a number of ideas to improve the KCM program and further reduce the rate of violations that are worth your consideration if you would only avail yourself of some objective, constructive input.
If TSA goes through with its planned changes without proper consultation and consideration for the real-world impacts on crews and airline operations, it is possible that front-line workers will simply decide to use passenger screening, significantly overwhelming that already bottle-necked process. It is my hope that TSA will reconsider this unilateral decision, bring stakeholders to the table, and engage in a thoughtful and constructive dialogue about how best to improve the KCM program.
Captain Joseph G. DePete
Air Line Pilots Association, International