Effective immediately, the nation's air carrier pilots are able to bypass the aggressive security screening and manual pat-downs that have stirred growing opposition from the flying public.
The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that uniformed pilots for U.S. carriers and those traveling on airline business have only to provide their airline identification and another form of ID to TSA officers at airport checkpoints. The officers will check the credentials against a crew member database that provides photos and other information to verify the pilots' employment status.
The move reverses a previous TSA policy that subjected pilots to full-body screening by X-ray and radio-wave scanners as part of a stepped-up effort to thwart terrorism.
A number of pilots' organizations said the new measures were burdensome, unnecessary and a violation of the long-standing trust between pilots and security personnel.
Pilots already have been through extensive FBI background checks, and the TSA has deputized thousands of them as federal flight deck officers. These deputized pilots are authorized to carry weapons and can use deadly force while on duty to protect the cockpit from a terrorist attack, according to the Air Line Pilots Association.