By Stephen P. Prentice
One of the fallouts of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center is now a mandatory requirement for fingerprint-based criminal history record checks in the airline industry. Your fingerprints will be or have been taken and sent to the FBI for processing. If you are employed in a SIDA (security identification display area) by working on the flight line or other covered areas, and/or have unescorted access authority, you may have been examined and fingerprinted already. The law requires that these fingerprint-based 10-year criminal history checks be accomplished by Dec. 6, 2002. No one can retain his or her unescorted access authority unless the person has been subjected to a fingerprint-based criminal record check for unescorted access authority on or before Dec. 6, 2002. This same rule applies to flight deck crews as well as most mechanics and of course the bag screeners.
New fingerprint-based criminal history checks are mandated by the Transportation Security Administration (49 CFR 1544.229). This is the new agency that now has acquired all security oversight from the FAA and has published the former FAA security regulations as its own and added others that govern aviation security.
The takeover of the FAA security functions became effective on Feb. 17, 2002. On that date all of the civil aviation security functions and responsibilities formerly performed by the FAA were transferred to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Get used to it. It is much bigger than FAA can ever be!
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) provided the mandate for this takeover by the TSA in addition to many other functions. ATSA was enacted on Nov. 19, 2001, shortly after the Sept. 11 attack.
The security mandate under this law is huge.
49 CFR 1544.229
Fingerprint-based criminal history records checks (CHRC) include unescorted access authority, authority to perform screening functions, and authority to perform checked baggage or cargo functions.
It soon becomes clear that just about anyone on the airport in an aircraft employment function can be included in the requirement for fingerprinting and records check. There are few exceptions.
I have been informed that some flight line mechanics and others have been summarily terminated under this rule. Certainly more will come as the various operators fully implement the fingerprint and criminal record check.
The companion part of this law is what happens when any one of a laundry list of criminal violations are found. Here is a partial listing of the offenses, that, if found, require immediate suspension or termination. Remember, there is a 10-year record check.
49 CFR 1544.229d
disqualifying criminal offenses
The disqualifying offenses are generally of the felony type but can include misdemeanors if they are "aggravated." The following list highlights many but not all of the offenses included:
1. Forgery of certificates, false marking of aircraft, registration violations
2. Interference with air navigation
3. Improper transportation of hazmat
4. Aircraft piracy
5. Interference with flight crew
6. Crimes on board an aircraft
7. Carrying weapon or explosive on board aircraft
8. Conveying false information and threats
9. Lighting violations involving transporting controlled substances
10. Unlawful entry into secure area (aircraft, airport)
11. Destruction of aircraft
12. Murder, sedition, kidnapping, or hostage taking
13. Aggravated sexual abuse
16. Distribution or intent to distribute controlled substance
17. Most felonies
18. Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation
19. Possession of stolen property
20. Aggravated assault
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