ALPA Leads Coalition of Five Unions

ALPA has led a coalition of five airline unions in petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review recent Bush Administration regulations that threaten to permit removal of a pilot’s license, without notice or the opportunity for a hearing, if the individual is a “security threat”.

ALPA’s Petition for Review challenges the three regulations

1. Ineligibility for an Airman Certificate Based on Security Grounds;Ê
2. Threat Assessments Regarding Alien Holders of, and Applicants for, FAA Certificates;Ê
3. and Threat Assessments Regarding Citizens of the United States and Alien Holders Who Hold or Apply for FAA Certificates

that grant to the TSA the power to require that the FAA deny, suspend or revoke a pilot’s license upon a determination by TSA that a pilot is a “security threat”. The TSA and FAA issued the regulations, which also apply to dispatchers, mechanics and flight instructors, without any advance notice or opportunity for comment. The regulations themselves provide no clarification or standards as to what type of activity the TSA may determine to constitute a “security threat,” and further provide that the information upon which TSA relies to revoke a license need not be provided to the airman, or even to the FAA.
ALPA President Duane Woerth harshly criticized the new rules upon their publication in January, stating: “While ALPA has strongly supported most of TSA’s actions to increase aviation security, this rule clearly crosses the line separating legitimate security measures from secretive, unaccountable government conduct.” Capt. Woerth noted: “The unanswered questions about how one is determined by TSA to be a ‘security threat’ should evoke a chill in every American. Pilots and other workers would be unable to invoke the traditional right to access and refute the information that is being used against them.”

ALPA has also filed comments with the FAA and TSA, requesting that the rules be suspended or withdrawn until corrected. ALPA’s comments take the position that the rules are beyond the statutory authority granted the TSA under the 2001 Aviation and Transportation Security Act; that the “security threat” language of the rule is void for vagueness; and that the procedures established under the rules would operate to deprive a pilot of liberty and property without due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.