Armed Pilot Program Still Moving Slowly
By Caitlin Harrington
CQ Homeland Security Daily
April 27. 2005
Two years after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a program to train pilots to carry guns in the cockpit, critics say lingering problems with the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program still discourage pilots from participating.
Since the program's inception in 2003, pilots groups have expressed frustration with TSA policies on gun storage and identification. The policies, they say, put the safety of deputized pilots at risk and run contrary to the intent of Congress, which wanted as many pilots as possible to participate.
"They've created a program that is so unfriendly that tens of thousands of pilots have changed their mind about volunteering," said David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance (APSA), a group formed after the Sept. 11 attacks to lobby for the arming of pilots. . . .
APSA estimates that only about 4,000 pilots have been trained and deputized - a fraction of the approximately 95,000 commercial pilots in the country. APSA estimates about 50,000 pilots who were initially interested in the program changed their minds after learning about certain TSA policies. . . .