TSA investigates pilot for posting videos online critical of security
SAN FRANCISCO – A pilot who posted videos on YouTube that were critical of security at San Francisco International Airport is now the subject of an investigation, the pilot’s attorney says.
The pilot placed several videos on YouTube in late November or early December that showed how ground crew members can enter secure areas by swiping security cards and without undergoing further screening.
The Transportation Security Administration is looking into whether the pilot revealed sensitive information, his attorney, Don Werno of the Santa Ana-based law firm Werno and Associates, said Friday.
The TSA wouldn’t answer questions but said in a statement it is responding to the situation and is confident in the security at San Francisco International Airport.
“As to access control at SFO, TSA is confident in the tools the airport has implemented and reminds passengers there are security measures in place that are both seen and unseen.”
The pilot remains employed with a major airline, but he has withdrawn from a program that trains flight crew to help prevent hijackings after authorities confiscated his federally issued firearm, Werno said. He declined to release the pilot’s name, citing concerns about the man’s job.
In the footage, the pilot says that pilots undergo intense screening, but then have access to ax-like weapons that are stored in the cockpit in case of emergencies.
One of the videos, which number more than six, was of federal air marshals and sheriff’s deputies who came to the pilot’s home earlier this month to seize his federally issued firearm. The pilot had been allowed to carry the weapon on board as part of a program after 9/11 that trains certain flight crew to serve as “federal flight deck officers” to prevent hijackings.
Werno said his client was upset about what he feels is lax security for ground crew, including baggage handlers, working at SFO while flight crews and passengers are subject to intense screening.
“The airport should be a security zone where everything that comes into the airport perimeter is checked,” he said.
The pilot removed the videos from YouTube after the TSA objected.
The pilot, a 50-year-old Sacramento-area native, has worked for a major airline for the past 10 years and continues to fly, according to Werno. He has been advised by his airline not to disclose his identity.
In its statement, the TSA said it “responded and took action in this situation because the pilot in question was a FFDO (federal flight deck officer).”
“FFDOs must be able to maintain sensitive security information as a condition of the FFDO program,” the agency said. It did not elaborate.