The Federal Aviation Administration is taking its fight over passenger safety to Seattle.
It has asked a federal judge to strike down a rule requiring airlines to inform passengers that the airlines are using a new, unproven technology to detect explosives in their bags.
The FAA has also asked a judge to block a Seattle-based startup that says its “Bombardier Transportation” system can detect explosives on passenger bags.
Both the FAA and Seattle-area court filings cite the use of the new technology as a potential violation of the federal passenger-safety law known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
The technology uses a “biometric” tag that a passenger could put on his or her shoulder belt to track their movements, allowing the airline to determine whether an explosive is present.
The TSA says the tags are not linked to the passenger’s identity and would not allow passengers to board an aircraft if a suspicious item was found.
Sarbanes Oxley Act restrictionsOn Monday, the FAA sent a letter to Seattle’s city attorney, saying it has been conducting an “open, prompt, and independent investigation” into the company and its claims about its technology.
“The FAA believes that the safety of passengers is a paramount concern for all airlines, and that the Sarabens-Oxleys Act does not allow airlines to deploy a ‘detectable bomb’ tag in passenger bags without an individual’s authorization,” the letter said.
The agency says it has asked Seattle’s court to block Bombardier from selling the “Bombay Transport” system.
The Seattle company has also been sued by the FBI, which alleges that it failed to inform airlines about the use the new tag technology.
The Bombardiers lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle last week and the city has until March 12 to file a response.
Bombarders has been lobbying the FAA to block the use, and it says the company has failed to prove that its system has not been used in the past.
Sara Smith, a spokeswoman for the company, said she was unaware of any previous claims against Bombarder.
Smith said in a statement that the TSA’s claims are “without merit,” adding that Bombardiere has been complying with the Saravans-Oxkins Act requirements for more than a decade.
Bombardy, she said, “stands by its business model and we will continue to work with the FAA on any issues that arise.”