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Pistole said pilots ensure the safety of millions of passengers every day, and that putting them through a faster screening process would be a more efficient use of the agency’s resources. But he has defended the more invasive inspections of passengers, saying they were a response to intelligence about potential terrorist attacks and plots to evade airport security.

Homeland security officials were alarmed last Christmas when a terrorist with a bomb in his underwear got on a flight to Detroit. He failed to detonate the explosives. Last month, terrorists tried mailing bombs hidden in ink cartridges and shipping them on planes as cargo.

Some lawmakers who are feeling heat from voters have called for a review of the TSA procedures.

The government could ease concerns through different technology. The TSA is testing a new body scanner that produces stick-figure images instead of pictures of the traveler’s naked body.

While pilots celebrated Friday, other airline employees feel left out.

The president of the flight attendants’ union at Southwest Airlines said if pilots can bypass the screening process, so should his members.

Thom McDaniel said attendants go through FBI checks just like pilots do, and making them go through the regular screening is “a double standard.”

Prater, the pilots’ union president, said he believes the government will eventually approve a system of allowing regular passengers to pass background checks and qualify as “trusted travelers” who can skip through security just by showing identification that can be verified in a computer database.


Koenig reported from Dallas. Associated Press writer Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.




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