The government said Friday that pilots deemed a security threat can have their licenses taken away without a hearing, prompting an angry reaction from a pilots union.
The 66,000-member Air Line Pilots Assn. said that under the rule, a pilot's career could be ended by an unsubstantiated accusation.
Duane Woerth, the union's president, said pilots won't be able to defend themselves because they won't have any way of finding out how the government decided they are a threat.
"This rule clearly crosses the line separating legitimate security measures from secretive, unaccountable government conduct," Woerth said.
Under the policy, the Transportation Security Administration would tell the Federal Aviation Administration that a pilot is a security threat. The FAA would revoke the pilot's license so the person could not fly a plane legally in the United States.
The pilot could then appeal to the TSA or FAA.
The rule was enacted without public comment. It appeared in Friday's Federal Register.
FAA spokesman Greg Martin said the policy is intended to reduce the threat of terrorism.
Woerth complained that the policy robs pilots of due process because the government set no standards, procedures or criteria to determine that someone is a security threat.
"The unanswered questions about how one is determined by TSA to be a 'security threat' should evoke a chill in every American," Woerth said.