Pilots grade U.S. aviation security an “F” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7148187/ WASHINGTON - A group of airline pilots gave the U.S. government failing grades on Thursday in several areas of aviation security including the screening of employees and cargo, and defending planes from shoulder-fired missiles. The Coalition of Airline Pilots Association released its Aviation Security Report Card that showed aviation security gets average to failing grades in over a dozen subject areas. The trade group gave failing “F” grades to the government in five areas -- screening of employees, screening of cargo, high-tech credentialing of crew members, self-defense training for crew and the plan for countering shoulder-fired missiles. The group gave good grades to the government on improved bag screening and on reinforcing cockpit doors on commercial airplanes. Jon Safley, president of CAPA, said filling some of the “gaping holes” in aviation security will require major changes in the way the airlines and airports do business, and in the way the government manages airline security. “The technology exists, or could be updated, to address many of these security problems,” said Safley, whose group represents about 22,000 pilots from American Airlines (AMR.N), United Parcel Service (UPS.N), Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) and AirTran Airways (AAI.N). “But neither the airlines, the airports nor government officials have given these issues the priority they deserve.” Studying anti-missile technology CAPA said that while screening of airline passengers and their bags had improved since the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airline attacks, screening of ramp employees and cargo has not improved. “We should have one level of security to protect the American people,” Safley said. “If we’re screening passengers, we certainly need to screen employees who have access to aircraft and baggage. And not screening cargo on all-cargo carriers invites disaster.” The Department of Homeland Security is studying how it might be able to adapt anti-missile technology, which is common on military aircraft, for use on U.S. commercial airliners to thwart shoulder-fired rocket attacks by al-Qaida or others. Concern over the possibility that attackers might use shoulder-fired weapons to down a plane grew after a missile nearly hit an Israeli airliner leaving Kenya in 2002. Cash-strapped airlines are skeptical of the plan for anti-missile systems due to high costs and liability. CAPA also gave low grades to the government on security of airports, saying that the Transportation Security Administration did not properly or consistently oversee the security. It also said there was poor sharing of information on potential threats to aircraft, and said airlines did not share the crucial information with their captains.