Bush administration pushes for more armed pilots on international flights

They seem to be more convinced that deterrence and incapacitation works.

U.S. Seeks to Increase Armed Pilots on International Flights

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Anonymous Bob in Fairfax said...

Why, when there are so few armed pilots on domestic flights? This administration has done very little to comply with Congress’ wishes for arming pilots. In fact there are more roadblocks placed in front of the pilots than there are aids to get them armed.

2/09/2007 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob has a point about the Bush administration resisting arming commercial airline pilots. For reasons beyond most Americans, who overwhelmingly supported the idea after 9/11, Bush fought hard against arming pilots and enhancements continued to come grudgingly. This move to broaden coverage to international flights is a clear step in the right direction. Clearly armed pilots are the most cost-effective method of deterring and/or dealing with another catatrophic hijacking by terrorists (or a madman), so the resistance has been befuddling. Was President Bush siding with airline CEO's who didn't want the program for equally mysterious reasons? Was it a general hostility to organized labor being granted status in the eyes of the public? The Federal Flight Deck Officer program is evolving and may or may not become a program which better serves the public, depending on policy made at the top levels of our federal government in the next few months.

Currently there are many thousands of pilots who volunteer to fly armed every day. The government FFDO program, now administered by the Federal Air Marshall department of the Transportations Security Administration (a good recent move - we'll always need FAMS to protect passengers in the cabin and prevent terrorist attack prior to them knocking on the fortified cockpit door - but FAMS can never be on every flight so the marriage is a team effort and FAM funding should never be curtailed just because even more pilots might fly armed in the future), provides the initial FFDO psychological and criminal background screening, week long training (initial and a shorter recurrent program twice a year), equipment and duty ammunition to pilots. Airlines are not required to give pilots time off for training - a deterrent to many pilots. Pilots are responsible for arranging their own time off and some of their own transportation (the flying part would be space available provided by the airline industry and some bus service is provided by the government) and pay for lodging and meals while training - other deterrents. They also pay for their own range time and practice ammunition between required recurrent firearms training, although the government does allow these expenses to be tax deductible (as well they should).

It is a great program that should be enhanced with a few more benefits, yet not made more of a hassle or expense for pilots. International flights absolutely should be included. We can and should demand our legislators make the program more attractive to pilots, who are always there and always willing to defend their crew, passengers, aircraft and fellow citizens on the ground from terrorist attack. Americans intelligently perceive that since they already trust their lives and welfare to professional pilots, among the most scrutinized, randomly drug and alcohol screened and medically evaluated workers in the world, training and authorizing them to responsibly handle firearms is a no-brainer decision.

If you agree, please contact your elected federal representatives and urge them to support the FFDO program.

2/11/2007 12:45 PM  

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