The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the Air Transport Association (ATA) have begun operations of a risk-based screening system for airline pilots, kicking off a trial last week at a Midwest airport that they expect will expand nationwide and to eventually include flight attendants.

The Known Crewmember program began at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and later this month will expand to Miami International Airport. Later this year, the 90-day evaluation phase of Known Crewmember will continue at Boston Logan, Washington Dulles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix Sky Harbor and Seattle-Tacoma International Airports.

Under Known Crewmember, when a pilot approaches a Known Crewmember checkpoint, he or she presents their photo identification badge. A Transportation Security Officer (TSO) uses a laptop computer connected to an ATA-hosted system to connect with the airline’s crew database. The TSO then pulls up a photo of the pilot to match the photo on the laptop with the badge and the individual.

This positive identification will give pilots expedited passage through security checkpoints.

In addition to positively verifying a pilot’s identity, Known Crewmember also verifies a pilot’s employment status. Combined with the fact that airline pilots already undergo a thorough fingerprint-based criminal background and employment check as a condition of their employment, it will mean that pilots will be subject to a more efficient security screening process at checkpoints.

“This enhanced screening process recognizes the extensive background checks pilots receive as part of their employment and, importantly, airline pilots’ critical role and responsibility in securing their aircraft each and every time they fly,” said Capt. Lee Moak, president of ALPA.

Known Crewmember is operated jointly by ALPA and ATA with oversight from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The start of Known Crewmember also means that at the airports where the program is in place, pilots will not be adding to the congestion at security checkpoints where airline passengers are screened, providing some trickle-down relief to the checkpoints.

The two industry groups hope to make the program available to all U.S. airline pilots, noting that 13 airlines have already connected to Known Crewmember. They have also asked TSA to include flight attendants in the future.