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Old April 17, 2013, 12:28 AM   #1
Ralgha
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Obama Wants to Cut the FFDO Program

The FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer) program is the one instituted after 9/11 to arm pilots of commercial airliners, and Obama wants to cut it completely (I know you're probably all shocked to the core) in his proposed budget for FY14. Please write your politicians to oppose cutting the program!

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Old April 17, 2013, 12:44 AM   #2
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So, if it really is just $15.00 per flight as they say in the article why not just pass the cost on to the passengers. Unless I’m missing something here it would seem fair to let the folks benefiting from the service subsidize it as opposed to tax payers that may not fly.
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Old April 17, 2013, 12:45 AM   #3
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*sigh*

Having worked for TSA for quite a while, I can say that program, as a whole, was one of the best Counter Terror programs implemented after 9-11. Even though no FFDO, to date, has intentionally fired his weapon in a plane, I believe it has quite a deterrent effect on many types of attack. I wonder, are they just afraid of having a gun on a plane? Do they realize that the pilot with the gun can cause far more destruction simply by pushing forward, than he does with the gun?

Really though...not shocking in the least.
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Old April 17, 2013, 01:03 AM   #4
Ralgha
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An FFDO is the last line of defense of the flight deck and while everyone hopes they'll never be tested, their presence places a significant obstacle in front of anyone trying to gain control. Removal of FFDOs means that if that door is breached, it's all over. $15 a flight seems a small price to pay for that bit of extra insurance.

There was one idiot FFDO who cranked one off into the side of the flight deck, but that was years ago. Most people have forgotten about him.
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Old April 17, 2013, 01:22 AM   #5
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Having a last line of defense is an acknowledgement that the previous lines might fail. (of course they might, the last line might fail too) They have so much invested in all the TSA bs they can't admit any possibility of failure.

BTW, do they still have air marshals, or did that program get trashed already?
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Old April 17, 2013, 04:44 AM   #6
Willie Sutton
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And to think that as recently as the early 1960's pilots carrying US Mail (which were most airline pilots, since mail was carried on almost every airline flight) were *required* to carry a "Mail Gun", which was a .38 caliber revolver, in order to "protect the mail". This dated back to the 1920's and the beginning of air-mail.

As a corporate pilot, I travel armed in the cockpit, for a variety of reasons having to do with dignitary protection, carriage of unknown charter passengers, etc. Yes it's a hassle with the multitude of jurisdictions we enter, which include many overseas flights as well as many "unfriendly" states. Many pilots are shooters, the progam ought to cost the Government essentially zero, and I would offer that if it's really costing $15.00/flight then someone is being paid way too much to administer the program and the training.


Little known fact: When we fly into Washington National as a corporate aircraft we not only need to submit our passenger list in advance and depart from one of only a few airports where we can be checked before we take off, we also need to carry an "armed professional" in the cabin, who is assigned the job of shooting any passenger who might threaten the aircraft crew, or to shoot the flight crew if they try to turn the jet into a kamikaze. No kidding.



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Old April 17, 2013, 09:39 AM   #7
Ralgha
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Re: Obama Wants to Cut the FFDO Program

Quote:
Originally Posted by zxcvbob View Post
Having a last line of defense is an acknowledgement that the previous lines might fail. (of course they might, the last line might fail too) They have so much invested in all the TSA bs they can't admit any possibility of failure.

BTW, do they still have air marshals, or did that program get trashed already?
The FFDO program is actually part of the TSA. Air Marshals still exist, there just aren't very many of them.
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Old April 17, 2013, 10:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Air Marshals still exist, there just aren't very many of them.
Yes, they do. I sat next to one not too long ago. He wasn't doing an especially good job of concealing his firearm.
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Old April 17, 2013, 10:39 AM   #9
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The FFDO program comes under the Dept of Homeland Security. Over the last 2-3 years the "powers-that-be" have done everything in they can to discourage pilots from participating in the program. It costs pilots a lot of their own time and money.
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Old April 17, 2013, 11:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
They have so much invested in all the TSA bs they can't admit any possibility of failure.
I don't know, with all the "layers of defense" BS we were fed during training, I highly doubt this. The biggest problem with the TSA (and I don't mean just the guys in blue shirts at the airport) is that it is way too political, and decisions are made for all the wrong reasons. In addition, everything implemented is always reactionary. Remember, taking your shoes off didn't happen before Richard Reid. Full pat downs in place of hand wanding didn't happen prior to the Underwear Bomber. The liquid BS didn't happen until after they found some terrorists were planning on using those in an attack (even though they knew liquid explosives could be used...look up the Bojinka plot). I suppose this is the way Government works.

But hey, an FFDO hasn't had to fight off a bad guy, so it must be unneeded. But Air Marshalls haven't had to fight a bad guy either, so let's cancel that program too. Working for TSA for so long was frustrating. One of the things we used to do in our downtime was to talk about how we would change airport security if we were in charge. We'd come up with a plan that would require half the number of screeners in the workforce, would be FAR less invasive to passengers, AND speed up screening. And it was all common sense stuff. Unfortunately, as a Government employee, common sense was prohibited. You were expected to be a robot with flesh.
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Old April 17, 2013, 11:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Yes, they do. I sat next to one not too long ago. He wasn't doing an especially good job of concealing his firearm.
I am perfectly ok with this. Lets people know that some are there, and there may be more.
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Old April 17, 2013, 12:11 PM   #12
Dr Big Bird PhD
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The program should be cut and the Airlines should be allowed to perform security on their aircraft in any manner they chose.

Even including arm pilots or a security officer or whatever. Take the federal gov't out of the equation and ask for more individual and corporate responsibility.
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Old April 17, 2013, 01:14 PM   #13
Ralgha
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Re: Obama Wants to Cut the FFDO Program

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Big Bird PhD View Post
The program should be cut and the Airlines should be allowed to perform security on their aircraft in any manner they chose.

Even including arm pilots or a security officer or whatever. Take the federal gov't out of the equation and ask for more individual and corporate responsibility.
You place far too much faith in corporate responsibility. Do you know why airlines don't force their crews to work 24 hours straight? Because the federal government won't let them, and that's the only reason.

Do you know why your flight is occasionally delayed because the crew is getting food? Because they showed up to work 10 hours ago and have been given no breaks or food by their airline. Do you know why they aren't fired when they finally say enough and get something to eat? Because the federal government is watching.

Do you know why your crew got 6 hours of sleep last night instead of 3? Because when they got in 5 hours late last night, only the federal government prevented the airline from forcing them to show up as scheduled.

Do you know why the airlines reinforced the flight deck door after 9/11? Because the federal government forced them to.

I'm not saying the feds are perfect, far from it, but rest assured that the only thing the airline cares about is money. Nothing else.
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Old April 17, 2013, 01:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
I am perfectly ok with this. Lets people know that some are there, and there may be more.
I was and am too. I am not frightened of people carrying firearms, whether they are law enforcement or not.
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Old April 17, 2013, 03:46 PM   #15
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FAMS...

I for 1, think the FFDO program should be on the books but to me, the weapons & safety SOPs are *******, .
There are a few videos online, www.youtube.com that explain it.

To my limited knowledge, the FFDOs are authorized to carry HK USPc pistols in .40S&W. They use the LEM(law enforcement modification) format.
I agree with the pilots & air crews, they are grown men & mature adults, many US armed forces veterans/pilots. They don't need dumb SOPs or hassles.

I do think the FAMS, www.tsa.gov , needs to go. They waste $$$ of tax dollars every year. Yes, there have been a few documented events of passengers who wig out or violent outbursts but trained "Sky Marshals" or FAA Special Agents(1800 series, www.OPM.gov ) can fly on selected aircraft.
I've read a few media items that many FAMs quit after 2/3 years due to stress, health problems or conflicts with the mgmt.
The entire system should be cut or re-designed to address the REAL counter-terrorist & homeland security threats.

CF

Last edited by ClydeFrog; April 17, 2013 at 03:52 PM.
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Old April 17, 2013, 04:46 PM   #16
Dr Big Bird PhD
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Quote:
You place far too much faith in corporate responsibility. Do you know why airlines don't force their crews to work 24 hours straight? Because the federal government won't let them, and that's the only reason.
Cite source
And do you really put that much faith in federal responsibility and bureacracy?
I'd rather trust a corporate that can fail than a government that can tax or devalue its currency out of failing. The way a government stops itself from failing is by taking from its citizens. That is the only way.

Quote:
Do you know why your flight is occasionally delayed because the crew is getting food? Because they showed up to work 10 hours ago and have been given no breaks or food by their airline. Do you know why they aren't fired when they finally say enough and get something to eat? Because the federal government is watching.
Cite source
And it sounds like you have no faith in humanity or individual responsibility, but are okay letting the government run our very lives. You are the first step of becoming a socialist.

Quote:
Do you know why your crew got 6 hours of sleep last night instead of 3? Because when they got in 5 hours late last night, only the federal government prevented the airline from forcing them to show up as scheduled.
Cite source
And more importantly, if the airline has policies that doesn't allow its employees to eat: People wont work there
If enough people dont work there, then the airline will have to adjust or fail.
If the airline cant get their planes in on time to make their consumer happy, then they will get a bad reputation and will lose revenue.

Do you not understand how markets work?

Quote:
Do you know why the airlines reinforced the flight deck door after 9/11? Because the federal government forced them to.
They don't have to reinforce the door, they could have had on board security or whatever to ensure better safety. The way the airline wants to pursue its security is its own issue.

Quote:
I'm not saying the feds are perfect, far from it, but rest assured that the only thing the airline cares about is money. Nothing else.
And do you not think the same of the Federal government?
When they impose new regulations, they borrow the money and pay the bureaucrats more money. In order to pay for the borrowed money they tax the american people or they borrow from foreign countries or the fed or banks.

All of which slowly inflate the currency and weaken the average american's pocketbook. We in fact end up ALL paying for it. Instead of just the airline.
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Old April 17, 2013, 06:43 PM   #17
Ralgha
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My sources? I'm an airline pilot. I deal with those situations every time I go to work.
Quote:
Cite source
And more importantly, if the airline has policies that doesn't allow its employees to eat: People wont work there
If enough people dont work there, then the airline will have to adjust or fail.
If the airline cant get their planes in on time to make their consumer happy, then they will get a bad reputation and will lose revenue.

Do you not understand how markets work?
You don't understand how aviation works. It is one of the few industries which has labor (pilots) eating their young to get a job flying an airplane. In the industry we call it the Shiny Jet Syndrome (SJS). Google it.

There are people who come out of college with $200k of debt who will jump at the chance to fly a shiny jet airliner for less than $20k a year. Do you think they care that they are going to work a 14 hour day with no food? Do you think they even considered that? No. They don't care if they're getting the shakes, because they're chasing the all important turbine PIC that will let them land a job at a bigger and better airline (the grass is always greener). The term is "paying your dues" to get qualified for that better job.

When you fly on a regional airline, there's a high likelihood that the pilot sitting in the right seat qualifies for food stamps. The companies get away with this because they have a stack of resumes a foot tall on their HR desk of people literally begging to let them fly their airplanes.

It's not unusual to fly 8 legs in one day with 20-30 minutes between each leg. It's scheduled that way, you think that's enough time to go get food? Flight attendants have it even worse, most places have policies that prohibit them eating in front of passengers, so even if they could get food, how are they going to eat it?

I haven't even scratched the surface, and yet there are people banging down the doors of the HR department screaming and crying to let them come fly airplanes.

There were companies that actually charged people to sit in the right seat of an airliner. Look up TAB Express and Gulfstream (the airline, not the manufacturer). Yes, you as a passenger would purchase a ticket to fly on this airliner and the first officer was also paying to be there. How much experience do you think he had?

The only reason you don't have airplanes falling out of the sky due to shoddy maintenance and overworked crews are because of federal regulations, most of which came to pass because somebody died.

Last edited by Ralgha; April 17, 2013 at 06:59 PM.
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Old April 17, 2013, 07:40 PM   #18
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The man who made the last post knows of what he speaks. Got that T-shirt. Flying as a career is like acting, but worse.

That kid on the right seat of the small commuter airliner that you fly into a hub on just might be living in his or her car as well as being on food stamps. It is very common for 4 or 5 pilots to share an apartment once they have been on the job long enough to make subsistence money.

And then there is the whole airline goes chapter 11 and ditches the pension plan nonsense. You and my taxes are paying for a lot of reduced airline pilot pensions through the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp after the airlines decided they didn't want to pay their bills any more.

Getting back to the FFDO program, all of the pilots that I know would prefer to carry on the job. The program and the company makes it hard.

Welcome to our world....

Wes
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Old April 17, 2013, 08:38 PM   #19
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Doc Big Bird, they are correct. Most airlines default to FARs for crew rest; many push the FAA to allow longer workdays; I do not know of any which require their crews to have more rest than what the FAA mandates.

IE, no more than 14 hours scheduled working; no more than 8 hours actually flying. However, that 14 hour day can be extended to 16 if weather or maintenance cause delays - but not if the company adds a leg. And the 8 hours flying can go longer, legally, if delays occur in flight that were not expected prior to takeoff.

Rest overnight ranges from 8-10 hours minimum between flights, depending on other factors.

If the FAA allowed more, part 121 and 135 operators would push crews even harder.

Ralgha, are you an FFDO as well as a pilot? FFDO buddies have told me that one discharge was the direct result of the lock the TSA mandatd for use, that was locked through the case AND trigger guard. Were they incorrect?
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Old April 18, 2013, 07:04 AM   #20
ClydeFrog
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Posts; FFDO pistol video...

On youtube was the clip of a demo showing how the SOPs can cause a AD with the HK USP .40S&W LEM(law enforcement modification/DA only).
It puts the problems & complaints in perspective.

CF
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Old April 18, 2013, 09:05 AM   #21
KyJim
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I know less than nothing about the airline industry. I have, however, lived long enough to know that a strict laissez-faire approach does not work in critical areas of our economy, like the airline industry. I have also lived long enough to see the damage that over regulation and agenda pushing can do. Finding the right balance is often the difficult part.
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Old April 18, 2013, 09:21 AM   #22
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I have, however, lived long enough to know that a strict laissez-faire approach does not work in critical areas of our economy, like the airline industry.
I don't really know that strict "hands off" policy would be the best choice in *any* industry. We already know what happens in America when there's no external regulation at all, because it wasn't that long ago that our industries didn't have those regulations.

Without regulation, we had seven year-old children losing fingers in textile mills, we had widespread open-pit mining with arsenic and other deadly chemicals used as leaching agents, and we had actual fires on the surface of the Cuyahoga river from the sheer amount of industrial waste that had been dumped into it. We had tapeworms sold as diet aids, and patent medicines that contained high levels of alcohol, mercury, or worse.

For good or for ill, any private company is motivated at least in part by profit, so it's naive to think that if the well-being of their customers or the general public were to come into conflict with the company's profitability, that the company would willingly sacrifice profits.
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Old April 18, 2013, 02:09 PM   #23
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Obama sure doesn't like firearms.

He wants passengers in the air just as defenseless as those on the ground.
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Old April 18, 2013, 02:36 PM   #24
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Cutting a program like that makes absolutely no sense. The government spend more money than that on entertainment.
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Old April 18, 2013, 02:48 PM   #25
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The FFDO program is generally popular with the public and with Congress.

By threatening to need to cut it due to (ridiculously minimal) funding, he pulls another pre-sequestration stunt to try to force a tax hike by threatening a program people, and particularly his political opponents, want to keep.

Standard, cynical Chicago racket ploy.
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