Federal officials and the airline pilots union are denying a report that the Obama administration is seeking to end a program that trains pilots to carry guns in jetliner cockpits.
An editorial published in the Washington Times on Tuesday stated that “President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.”
About 12,000 pilots have been authorized to carry handguns while flying aircraft as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) program, and the Times article called the administration’s move “completely unnecessary harassment of the pilots.”
But Sterling Payne, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), told Fox News of the editorial: “It’s inaccurate. This program continues to grow. TSA continues to recruit and put new FFDOs on planes, and we continue to train them and do recurring training.”
Congress authorized the gun program following the 9/11 attacks to help prevent terrorists from turning jetliners into flying bombs that could be used to attack key sites like the White House.
The Airlines Pilots Association International, representing more than 52,000 pilots in the U.S. and Canada, issued a statement saying the Times story “couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Union representatives “met with TSA executives and were told in no uncertain terms that TSA embraces the FFDO program, that there are no plans to reduce or restrict its growth, and that in fact the agency fully intends to grow and expand the program,” according to the union statement.
“Government representatives acknowledged that the program needs additional funding to achieve these goals, and that they are actively seeking same.”
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