Tags: TSA | Under | the | Gun | Touts | 'Successful' | Armed

TSA, Under the Gun, Touts 'Successful' Armed Pilots Program

Wednesday, 04 February 2004 12:00 AM

The Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program was created as part of the Homeland Security Act to select, train, equip, and supervise pilots who volunteer to defend their aircraft against hijackers and terrorists.

But ever since Congress enacted the FFDO program, pilots have complained about TSA foot-dragging in making the program run as Congress intended it to.

Late last year, Congress expanded the FFDO program to include cargo pilots, almost a year after giving commercial and charter pilots the option of carrying a gun in the cockpit.

"Expanding the FFDO program adds yet another layer of security on passenger and cargo aircraft to protect against those who would do us harm," said Acting TSA Administrator David Stone in an announcement on Tuesday.

"We welcome this important opportunity to expand a very successful program."

Some pilots who have gone through the TSA training program, or who have contemplated going through it, have doubts about the program's success, however.

As part of its recent investigation into the program, CNSNews.com talked with a number of Federal Flight Deck Officers who shared their concerns on the condition that they not be identified. They said they feared retaliation.

The pilots expressed concern about the way FFDOs are required to transport their weapons; and they complained about TSA-administered background investigations, psychological examinations, the release of personal information about applicants; and the remote location of the program's single training facility, in Artesia, N.M.

The bottom line, the pilots indicated, is that TSA has never liked the idea of arming pilots, and even under orders from Congress to arm pilots, it is making the process more cumbersome and discouraging than it needs to be.

According to Tuesday's TSA press release, cargo pilots and other flight crew members, including flight engineers and navigators on passenger and cargo planes, are now eligible for the program. Applications are being accepted on a secure Web site, TSA said.

To apply, volunteers must first complete a questionnaire. The selection process also includes an hour-long computerized assessment, an interview and a background check.

TSA says it has "refined" the training regimen for pilots. The training, which takes place at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, has resulted in "a large number" of pilots being deputized as federal law enforcement officers, TSA said in its press release.

Those deputized pilots "now contribute to aviation security throughout the U.S." daily, TSA noted.

Pilots who wish to carry guns in the cockpit must pay for their travel, lodging and other daily expenses while attending training courses, TSA said. "Total expenses borne by pilots for per diem and lodging while attending the program are less than $200," the agency estimated.

TSA noted that it provided the training, the weapon and ground transportation from airports in Albuquerque and Roswell, N.M., and El Paso, Texas.

"Persons completing the training are well equipped to defend the flight deck of an aircraft," the press release said.

As CNSNews.com reported earlier this week, the Transportation Security Administration recently sent an e-mail to FFDOs, threatening them with dismissal and fines if they disclosed classified information about the armed pilots program to members of Congress. Pilots who spoke with CNSNews.com said they considered the email an effort to stop them from airing legitimate complaints.

The e-mail apparently was sent without the knowledge of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who supervises TSA.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., called the e-mail "the final straw" in TSA's handling of the Federal Flight Deck Officer program.

Copyright

103-103-103

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Pre-2008
The Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program was created as part of the Homeland Security Act to select, train, equip, and supervise pilots who volunteer to defend their aircraft against hijackers and terrorists. But ever since Congress enacted the FFDO program, pilots...
TSA,,Under,the,Gun,,Touts,'Successful',Armed,Pilots,Program
581
2004-00-04
Wednesday, 04 February 2004 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved