Dems Demand Biometrics For Flight Crew Fast Track

A national program that gives pilots and flight crews a fast track through airport security should be based on a biometric scan, Democratic members of the House Homeland Security Committee told the TSA in a letter Tuesday.

The Transportation Security Administration is already testing the so-called crew pass-system at three airports. That system is based around an ID card crew members carry that includes a fingerprint or other biometric information that ensures they are who they say they are.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Tex., the ranking member of the committee's transportation security subcommittee, urged TSA Chief John Pistole not to expand the system without ensuring that the biometric component stays in place.

Top pilots' unions have urged Pistole and the White House to move quickly on the crew-pass system so their members won't be slowed down by ever-longer security lines or increasingly invasive body scans and pat downs.

The crew-pass system was authorized by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act passed in 2007.

TSA sponsored a pilot program that allowed registered frequent fliers to speed through security at 19 airports by supplying similar biometric data. That program, called Frequent Traveler, concluded in 2008, with the notion that private sector firms would offer similar biometric products in cooperation with airports.