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Thu, Sep 18, 2008

Southwest Pilots Help TSA Test Biometric Screening At BWI

True "Pilot" Program Screens Cockpit Personnel

On Wednesday, a Southwest Airlines pilot was the first aircrew member to be screened by the Transportation Security Administration using an advanced biometric screening system.

The TSA-approved demonstration project, called SecureScreen, will utilize biometrics to positively identify aircrew members -- which, in theory anyway, should make the screening process more secure and more efficient.

SecureScreen was jointly developed by the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA), Southwest Airlines (SWA), the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), Maryland Aviation Authority (BWI), officials from TSA, and Priva Technologies, the developer of the Cleared Key, the core technology platform for SecureScreen.

Over 200 Southwest pilots based at Baltimore/Washington International Airport will participate in the SecureScreen trial, which is slated to run for 60 days.

"Strengthening security into the cockpit has been a high priority at SWAPA for the past few years and we are extremely pleased to see this program come to fruition," said Capt. Carl Kuwitzky, President of SWAPA. "We anticipate a successful trial at BWI and strive to see this level of security implemented nationwide to ensure that anyone with access to the cockpit has been positively identified using a fingerprint or other form of bio-identification."

SecureScreen addresses the congressional mandates in H.R. 1 (Public Law 110-053), implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which requires TSA to enhance security by properly identifying authorized airline flight deck and cabin crew members at screening checkpoints, granting them expedited access through screening checkpoints and to integrate biometric identifiers into airport security access control systems.

"We are excited about the upcoming test for the biometric system," said Chuck Magill, Southwest Airlines Vice President of Flight Operations. "We think that it offers a much higher degree of security for our Pilots and will allow TSA a greater ability to focus on other areas of the screening process. We have worked together with SWAPA and TSA to create this test and believe that coordinated efforts such as this allow us all to create a viable, realistic, and state-of-the-art system."

SWAPA, Southwest and CAPA worked closely with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to ensure that biometric screening was a part of the 9/11 bill. Southwest Airlines and SWAPA have worked closely together for months to secure TSA approval for this project and assure that the demo is a success.

FMI: www.swapa.org, www.tsa.gov

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