...As TSA Program Moves Slowly Forward...

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The TSA has apparently disqualified many pilots who apply. "The screening is subjective," Darling said, "and in our view, many qualified pilots are not being allowed into the program." Some pilots also have complained about a lengthy and time-consuming application process, an invasive psychological exam, and the requirement to pay their own travel expenses to the training site, at a remote location in the New Mexico desert. Pilots also pay their own room and board during the weeklong program, while taking unpaid leave from work. The Air Line Pilots Association, however, thinks the program is working just fine, according to spokesman John Mazor. "We're very pleased with the TSA program," Mazor told AVweb yesterday. "They were a little slow in getting started, but it's in full swing now," he said. Forty-eight pilots are attending the training every week in New Mexico, he said, though not all of them will qualify to carry weapons. Pilots have not complained about the expenses, Mazor said, and the low cost of the program was an important factor in getting the TSA to go along with it. "This is an extremely cost-efficient and effective component of the government's anti-terrorism program," he said. Darling and APSA, however, clearly disagree and the group does have the moral support of others.