AOPA: TSA Takes Tiny Step Toward Due Process

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AOPA noted Monday that a recent change by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) represents a "small but significant concession" to concerns about due process for pilots affected by security rules. In a letter to AOPA, TSA chief counsel Francine Kerner wrote, "We are aware of the need for an avenue of administrative appeal outside of TSA. Accordingly, TSA is exploring the possibility of providing for a final appeal review level at the Department of Homeland Security." The allegations leading to a certificate revocation may be based on classified information, which the TSA (previously the revocation authority and appeals channel) can withhold from the pilot, making it impossible to respond to the specific charges during the appeal. Adding the new channel for appeal is a good first step, said AOPA President Phil Boyer, but he still wants a pilot whose certificate is revoked for security reasons to be able to seek an independent review outside the Homeland Security agency. Under the current rule, the TSA can direct the FAA to revoke a pilot's certificate if the pilot is deemed a security risk. The pilot's only avenue of appeal is back to the TSA, which ordered the revocation in the first place. AOPA has proposed following the same procedures used for other certificate actions: an appeal to an administrative law judge at the U.S. Department of Transportation.