Pilot’s licenses still short on security measures contrary to Congressional mandate

October 21, 2010 at 7:41 am | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ā€” In an attempt to improve security, Congress told the Federal Aviation Administration in 2004 to come up with a pilot’s license that included the pilot’s photo and could contain biometric information like fingerprints or iris scans. Today, the only pilots pictured on FAA licenses are flight pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright, and the licenses lack biometric data.

In a letter Tuesday, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., asked the heads of the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration and the Homeland Security Department to explain why they haven’t complied with the law he helped write.

“It is absolutely astounding that DHS, TSA and FAA could, after six years to implement the act, still achieve such an incredible level of incompetence,” wrote Mica, the top Republican member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 sought to fill some of the security gaps exposed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including verifying the identities of people seeking access to airplanes and airfields.

Mica said in an interview that FAA officials have told his staff that one reason the licenses don’t contain biometric information is that they’ve been waiting for TSA and DHS to decide on criteria for the information and the equipment necessary to read the information. He said the three agencies have been pointing fingers at each other.

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