Update on Restoring Off-Line Jumpseats
By Capt. Bill Dickey (Aloha), Chairman,
ALPA Jumpseat Committee
Members of ALPA’s Jumpseat Committee and Association staff participated in three meetings with the FAA Flight Standards Service in Washington, D.C., this spring. The FAA invited us to these meetings to help draft a document that will provide guidance to airlines on restoring reciprocal jumpseating per FAR 121.547 (dated Jan. 15, 2002), Admission to the Flight Deck.
The FAA Administrator, through our airlines’ assigned principal operations inspectors (POIs), is responsible for working with the newly formed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in carrying out the provisions of this regulation.
Although we may not now let off-line pilots ride in our cockpit jumpseats, the TSA’s past and current security rules allow pilots of code-sharing and wholly owned subsidiary companies to ride in cockpit jumpseats under certain conditions. Those conditions include (1) having a way to positively identify the jumpseat rider, (2) verifying his/her employment, and (3) restricting the use of the cockpit jumpseat to those occasions when no seat is available in the cabin.
Our meetings with the FAA have focused on satisfying security requirements as they relate to an ID and employment-verification process. This process will cost our airlines little or nothing and allow us to reinstate a reciprocal jumpseat program.
In April, the FAA Flight Standards Service met with many of our airlines’ POIs to accomplish the final coordination on the guidance document that we have helped prepare. That information should be provided to the field by the end of June. At that point, each MEC’s Jumpseat Committee chairperson/coordinator will have to work with his or her airline’s management to implement procedures for the verification process.
While the procedures may be somewhat cumbersome, we will be allowed to adapt them in a manner best suited to our particular airline’s capabilities. While major airlines with mainframe computers should be able to accomplish the process at the gate by an agent querying the database, other airlines will use telephone or fax procedures.
Neither the FAA Flight Standards Service nor the TSA is now requiring any type of additional ID or employment verification of government employees. By regulation, such individuals are in essence "on duty" when they approach you for a cockpit jumpseat. Pilots must use caution when confronting or considering denial of these persons.
ALPA views the use of smart cards and biometrics as the long-term, permanent solution to the problem of verifying the identities of jumpseat riders. In related news, the Department of Transportation and the TSA are developing the Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC), which will be a standardized smart card used by employees of all modes of transportation. ALPA is taking advantage of every opportunity to meet with government officials on the TWIC, which has come to replace what the FAA previously called the Universal Access System (see "ALPA, Industry Push for ‘Smart Card’ Access-Control IDs," page 11).
ALPA is strongly promoting implementation and use of the TWIC system to positively verify the identity and employment status of all airline pilots and government employees who need to ride the cockpit jumpseat.
More information about the TWIC system can be found at www.tsa.dot.gov.