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Thu, May 06, 2004

What Is It About UAL 200?

LAX-Dulles Flight Pegged For Special Scrutiny

What has the TSA so interested in United Airlines Flight 200? That evening flight from Los Angeles to Washington (DC) appears to be under intense government scrutiny. The measures include:

  • An invasive search of items belonging to flight crew members and flight attendants
  • "Sanitizing" the aircraft prior to departure
  • Bomb-sniffing dogs in the gate area
  • Shadowing the pilot briefer

"They absolutely tear everything apart inside the flight bag, every piece of professional literature, flight manuals, head sets, they empty the overnight bag. It's being scrutinized at a level I have never seen in over 25 years of flying," one crew member told the Washington Times, asking not to be named.

A memo obtained by the Times says UAL 200 has been designated by the TSA as a "flight of interest." Cockpit and cabin crew members "are receiving a thorough second security screening by the TSA, which includes flight bags and all personal belongings. In addition, the pilot conducting the preflight is being shadowed," the memo said. Being "shadowed" in this sense means the pilot briefer has to wait in a secure area until he can be escorted by a security team, according to the anonymous crew member.

Many are angry at the new procedures. "Every single crew member assigned to a flight has their identification verified before boarding," said APSA (Airline Pilot's Security Alliance) President Dave Mackett. "It should also be obvious a weapon is superfluous to a pilot getting control of an airplane, since he is given control as his primary job. What is especially disconcerting is that the TSA refuses to even tell the captain of the flight what the threat is, and the captain is charged by law with ensuring the flight's safety."

FMI: www.ual.com, www.tsa.gov, www.secure-skies.org

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