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IconMarch 7th, 2023
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Known Crew Member (KCM) screenings to be taken over by TSA

As of 2023, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be in charge of Known Crew Member Screening (KCM). Following the discovery of crew members smuggling illegal items and substances through airport security checkpoints, the administration announced an increase in random crew screening.

KCM comes to an end

The KCM screening process is to be rewritten by the TSA next year. The process will be renamed Expedited Crew Access (ECA) by 2023. In the meantime, crew members will be subjected to more random searches to prevent illegal substances from passing through security. After randomly searching crew members in October, the administration discovered several edged weapons, a loaded firearm, and one kilogram of methamphetamine. Recent months have seen the security program become a topic of public discourse in the media, due to flight attendants being caught attempting to smuggle drugs through airport security. The TSA has declared that they must intervene to ensure public safety and have announced plans to replace their KCM program with ECA. Although no specific details have been shared yet, it is likely that the new program will require crew members go through some sort of security process, but one presumably smoother and easier than what passengers normally experience.

According to an anonymous pilot for regional airline Envoy Air,

Changes can be difficult to accept, but it’s essential to bear in mind the reasons behind them. As rumors suggest, the Department of Homeland Security has issued directions for a revamped KCM system due to certain failings of the existing program, such as cases of personnel disregarding the privileges granted by KCM. Should these rumors be confirmed and TSA take over all screening processes, pilots optimistically anticipate minimal increases in waiting times. Recently random tests have been more frequent and flight crew have observed this.

Screenings of KCM

KCM security is a program that permits airline crew members to circumvent security screening, simply by showing their badge. Instead of inspecting them and their baggage for contraband or hazardous materials, the TSA plans on increasing the amount of unexpected searches to keep crews from becoming lax at many KCM points, as they come across the same TSA operatives repeatedly. This system mostly relies on faith in flight staff. In order to take advantage of KCM checkpoints, airline crew members including pilots and flight attendants must first apply for the program and have their backgrounds thoroughly reviewed. Upon completion, they will receive a KCM badge that is to be shown each time they pass through the checkpoint. This service is tailored only for certain airlines as it results from collaboration between the TSA, The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and Airlines for America (A4A). Crew members can walk straight through security and into the airport’s sterile area. This program helps them board their flights more quickly and minimizes delays. When off-duty, they still have access to the program, though proof of identity is needed if not dressed in their work uniform. There has been a rise in illegal substances being smuggled by non-uniformed staff in recent months; the TSA hopes that its new ECA scheme will plug this loophole.  

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