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Old November 19, 2002, 08:57 PM   #1
Cuchulainn
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Gun control needed in airplane cockpits

Here's some amusing thinking. Since guns are too dangerous to passengers to ALLOW pilots to keep the behind steel doors to use only if the door is broken down, we should have more sky marshals who sit among the passengers with guns. (I'm not knocking sky marshals, but their logic is, well, not.)

(Highlights mine to show the logical disconnect)

http://www.pilotonline.com/opinion/op1119eda.html

Quote:
Gun control needed in airplane cockpits
The Virginian-Pilot
© November 19, 2002

Will it be the Wild West in the skies?
After a yearlong debate that has pitted pilots' unions against the airlines, Congress is one step closer to allowing guns to be carried in airplane cockpits as a defense against terrorists. A provision in the homeland security bill, slated for passage this week, would enable pilots to carry pistols on the flight deck after passing an FBI-designed training course.

Some 40,000 to 50,000 of the nation's pilots may eventually be selected to participate in the firearms-training course -- likely to be only five days long -- and will be deputized as ``federal flight deck officers.'' Under the new law they will defend the cockpit ``against acts of criminal violence or air piracy.''

Pilots believe firearms would deter hijackers, and that proper training would transform them into effective deterrents. But even months of training won't ensure that -- in the unlikely event that hijackers make it through locked, reinforced cockpit doors -- terrorists will not seize pilots' guns or that a stray bullet won't damage delicate flight instruments or possibly kill passengers or crew. A spokesman for the Air Transport Association, an organization representing more than 21 U.S. airlines that has opposed arming pilots, recently said, ``You don't need a shooting gallery in the sky.''

It certainly looks as if Congress has allowed political influence to trump sound security policy. The fact that the Bush administration, the airlines and flight attendants' unions were against guns in cockpits hasn't deterred lawmakers, whose coffers have received more than $764,000-- a sum greater than that given by airlines -- in campaign contributions from the Airline Pilots Association since 2001. U.S. Reps. Ed Schrock and Randy Forbes support arming pilots, as do Sens. John Warner and George Allen. U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott does not.

Measures already in place, such as reinforced cockpit doors, will protect pilots. Perhaps the best alternative, the federal sky marshal program, remains inadequately funded. This weekend the world witnessed the effectiveness of sky marshals when a man armed with a penknife was subdued on an El Al flight from Israel to Turkey. Turkish reports said Monday that the man planned to carry out a Sept. 11-style attack on Tel Aviv. With millions of dollars up for grabs in the name of homeland security, Congress and the airlines should find the money to hire more sky marshals for America's 30,000 daily commercial flights.

Congress should reconsider. Pilots faced with onboard terrorists should focus on landing the plane, not riding shotgun.
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Old November 19, 2002, 09:28 PM   #2
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Old November 19, 2002, 10:24 PM   #3
NewShooter78
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I agree with you Cuchulainn,
I think that more money needs to be pumped into the skymarshall program instead of having pilots arm themselves. A pilots first respondisbility is to fly the plain, not defend it from terrorists. That responsibility should be left in the hands of law enforcement.
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Old November 19, 2002, 10:33 PM   #4
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Newshooter, please keep in mind that planes have had autopilot capability for MANY years, now. In the event of a cockpit incursion, there are at least TWO people in the cockpit, and NEITHER must be constantly at the controls, leaving at least ONE to always fly the plane.

A large part of pilot training is focused upon crisis management and multitasking, with audible and visual inputs coming from all over the cockpit in an emergency. These professionals are trained to do more than one thing at a time.

There's only one steering wheel in your car, but surely you've had a cup of coffee in the morning, or tuned the radio, while on the way to work, no? That should dispel any ill-conceived notion that pilots aren't capable of doing two things at once.

But, just for arguement's sake, let's say that the pilots don't take their focus from flying the plane, and someone does make it into the cockpit. Guess what happens then? Wouldn't you agree that the pilots would have less work if all they have to do is pull a trigger, than physically wrestle an assailant within a highly confined space? Pulling a trigger is MUCH easier, yes? That way, they're assured of getting back to their jobs sooner, wouldn't you say?
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Old November 19, 2002, 10:43 PM   #5
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Rovert,
I have no pre-concieved notions of what pilots are capable of. I have a few friends that are pilots, one for a major carrier, but I think that it would be easier on all in the cockpit if they didn't have to worry about defending the plane as well as flying it. Autopilot doesn't seem like an option when you are trying to land a plane in an emergency, and I think that adding to the mix a firearm in the cockpit as well is not the right move. I don't mean any disrespect to pilots that feel they need to be armed, but I would like to see the U.S. Marshall service expand the air marshall program so that pilots do not have to worry about that in a time of crisis.
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Old November 19, 2002, 11:15 PM   #6
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It seems pretty simple to me - there will NEVER be air marshalls on EVERY flight. There ARE pilots on EVERY flight right now. If I trust them with my life as commanders of the aircraft why would I balk at the idea of them being armed? I trust their sense of priority (I can't see a pilot abandoning the controls, saying "I'll be back, honey, right after I clear the galley!" to the worshipful and nubile flight attendant), and I don't think armed pilots would have to "worry about defending the plane" if armed - just like I don't "worry about defending my home" so much when I keep a shotgun near the bed - I actually worry a bit less.

And why can't pilots go armed even if there is a marshall on board? What makes marshalls magically invincible? Even with a superior training regimen (which apparantly they don't use anymore anyway) they're still fallible human beings, sitting right out in the middle of the passenger compartments, probably somewhat conspicuous - there's no way they're not vulnerable at times.
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Old November 19, 2002, 11:15 PM   #7
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NewShooter,
Using your logic, none of us should carry or keep firearms for self defense. Heck, isn't protecting us the job of law enforcement? We should concentrate on our jobs & lives, and not worry about silly things like defense of family and life.

I wonder how many Americans would have died on 9/11, if pilots had been armed, as they where years ago?
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Old November 19, 2002, 11:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
I think that it would be easier on all in the cockpit if they didn't have to worry about defending the plane as well as flying it.
Well, not really. Having a plane with something dangerous (whether a fire or a terrorist or a fuel leak or whatever) aboard it is very, very distracting. Not to mention the stress of wondering when the F-16 was going to lob a missile up your tailpipe.

There is one recorded instance of a hijacker forcing his way into the cockpit of a US civilian airliner when the pilot happened to be armed. IIRC it occurred in 1956 and the hijacker was a teenager with a death wish. (Back then planes carried the mail so the pilots were armed.) The pilot pulled out his pistol, killed the hijacker (taking maybe 10 seconds) and went back to his flying.

I can't recall the number of times (more than two but less than a dozen) when I've woken from a brief nap sitting in a two-seat Air Force jet to find the pilot asleep. No autopilot, no problems. Airplanes are not like helecopters. they don't fall out of the sky if you let go of the controls.
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Old November 19, 2002, 11:32 PM   #9
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newshooter,

"I think that more money needs to be pumped into law enforcement instead of having citizens arm themselves. A citizen's first respondisbility is to keep herself at minimal risk by presenting no resistance to criminals and by avoiding dangerous situations, not to defend herself from criminals. That responsibility should be left in the hands of law enforcement."

Are you serious?
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Old November 19, 2002, 11:32 PM   #10
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Hijackings are a thing of the past

After 9-11 no plane load of Americans will ever allow hijackers to take control of a plane and fly into some place and take out 1000's of people again.

We now know the consequences of sitting on our hands and letting someone determine our fate.

There will be men and women who will be willing to sacrifice themselves just as the heros who so bravely gave their lives that others might live and died Pennsylvania..

I hope that we can honor those folks by being willing to stand up and defend ourselves in our home, on our streets, and across this land...

Get a gun, get proper training, and let it be known that we are going to take America back from the terrorists and thugs..

Let's Roll!!
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Old November 20, 2002, 12:41 AM   #11
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I should have said that I agreed with the part about more money into law inforcement, particularly the air marshall program. I do believe in my right to protect myself, family, and property, and I do so everday with my handgun. I would like to think that I would be like those that gave their own lives to make sure that thousands more could live like those that died on the plane in Penn. I do know that pilots used to be armed because of the fact that they carried the mail back then, but for some reason the idea of pilots being armed now just doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe if they are put through a seriously rigorous training program, I can be convinced, but from what I have read about so far for this plan I'm not convinced as of yet. And with thousands of commercial flights a day, I know there will never be an airmarshall on every plane. And I never said that I didn't think that pilots couldn't do the task. I'm just a little skeptical of the whole idea right now.
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Old November 20, 2002, 08:51 AM   #12
Cuchulainn
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Quote:
I agree with you Cuchulainn,
I think that more money needs to be pumped into the skymarshall program instead of having pilots arm themselves.
Actually, that's not my point. That's the newspaper's point. I think something different. Get more sky marshals, yes, but also let pilots arm themselves if they want.

Distraction from their jobs? Here's the deal. The pilots now are required to keep the door shut no matter what. Period. The guns will be there to stop terrorists IF they break down the door. If men have broken down the door, the pilots will be distracted regardless of having the guns Better to be distracted and armed than distracted and unarmed. The idea that the gun will be the cause of distraction during an attack just doesn't wash, no offense.
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Old November 20, 2002, 10:00 AM   #13
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Hi Gang,

The Federal Flight Deck Officer program passed last night as an amendment to the Homeland Security Bill, largely as a result of a grassroots effort of commercial airline pilots. The primary player was a group of pilots that formed the "Airline Pilots Security Alliance" to push for this program. This enabled pilots from all carriers to lobby for an armed pilot program alone, apart from any other labor or political issues.

We were told that it would never happen- it would never get out of committee in the house, never pass the house floor vote, never go to the Senate, never leave the Senate Transportation Committee, never see the President's desk. Powerful people were publicly against the program for a number of reasons, political and otherwise.

The article doesn't mention how many millions of dollars the airlines themselves spent to thwart the program. Our effort was completely grassroots. APSA leaders spent their own money to get to Washington DC and meet with anyone who would see them. They presented the security situation on the aircraft and the threat. The facts sold the program, including numbers of FAM's, intelligence information, and defensive options. APSA was grateful for strong help in the form of testimony from law enforcement, special ops, security and intelligence experts. This resulted in veto proof majorities passing both houses of Congress.

The facts, including real pilots (some who also perform as law enforcement officers, flew or continue to fly armed in the military and active reserves), who fly for a living testifying as to what actually goes into flying a commercial transport, and exactly how a cockpit breach would be handled by a trained, armed pilot.

After over a year of close scrutiny and opposition, the program passed. That should speak volumes.

Best,

Grinch

For complete information-

Airline Pilots Security Alliance
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Old November 20, 2002, 11:55 AM   #14
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ASPA's FFDO Program

Thanks Grinch for that link. Of course I haven't seen anything like this printed in most media, so I will admit I was WRONG. That is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to eventually see! Thanks again.
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Old November 20, 2002, 12:31 PM   #15
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NewShooter, I think others have made the point that we need to have armed pilots as a last line of defense. It causes no distraction if they don't use the gun, and it creates less distraction than if they do need to use it, than the distraction they'd have when a terrorist crashes the plane into another building.

The scenario would look more or less like this:

Pilots fly plane.
Bad Guy breaks into cockpit.
Pilots shoot bad guy. (about as much time as it takes for a cup of coffee)
Pilots land plane.
Ground crew cleans up.

I don't see the distraction. As to "special training", I'm not sure exactly what that means, since a gun functions the same in a plane as it does on the ground. However, it sure sounds like you're holding the door open to more anti-gun legislation that presents yet more hurdles for us to jump through, since it will eventually trickle down to the 'common folk' here on the ground.
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Old November 20, 2002, 12:53 PM   #16
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Armed pilots

Since this topic has been discussed a few times, I have a Question. I would like information and clarification please.

IIRC growing up pilots were known to have firearms. Seems like we had a couple of pilots in our church whom said they had, especially duing international flights. Did they also strongly suggest pilots do so during the Cuban Missle Crisis? When hi-jacking's began? I was born in'55 and realize at that time growing up times were different-guns through the mail, very few gun restictions/laws/bans etc. This was also to the best of my memory that we had less gov't involvement and regs-on guns and everthing else.

Of course I realiize stats, and info that occured then--certainly wouldn't be accepted by the anti's and sheeple of today. I still have some '55 Field and Stream mags "$24.50 for a ruger 22 shipped via mail to your home". Silly I guess thinking these old stats might be used as a rebuttal to those against arming pilots.
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Old November 20, 2002, 01:06 PM   #17
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Well I don't feel that they shouldn't be eventually armed, I just would feel safer knowing they've had some kind of regulated training, like the type Grinch pointed out through the web link in his post. I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but even after 9/11, I can't even be sure that my pilot is sober. Doesn't anyone remember those news stories? I just want to be convinced first. I'm not a gun grabber, its just a mater of personal safety for me. And I don't doubt that there are pilots that could handle these situations right now.
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Old November 20, 2002, 02:05 PM   #18
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To clean up some of your questions-

The inane argument of the columnist about the pilots concentrating on landing the plane while a commando team is trying to kill them is oft repeated, and completely specious.

Trust me, if someone is trying to break the door down to kill an unarmed crew, they are going to be at battle stations with the crash axe, fire extinguishers, flashlights, etc trying to stay alive. With a firearm, one guy flies, one guy defends. Same way we handle all emergencies. We have been doing it this way for decades.

Yes, some pilots surruptitiously carried firearms up to late 1987.

After a terminated PSA ground agent shot a crew of a BAE 146 over California, pilots were forced to go through security screening, precluding further carry. Of course the ground agents still did not. So nothing was done to prevent the same scenario from occuring, it was just for show.

In the early years, pilots carried firearms due to mail contracts. The Federal Aviation Regulations reflected that, ironically, until 2001. None of the air carriers authorized carry. There was a very small test program of approximately 16 pilots authorized to carry firearms still in place from the Cuban hijacking days, which was never expanded, despite zero problems.

This is not equivalent to shall issue concealed carry-

The current FFDO program gives priority to pilots who are current, or former LEO's or Military. Every military pilot (I am an ex Navy fighter puke) was required to qualify with a sidearm.

The program will be tough and thorough, but the jurisdiction is primarily confined to the cockpit. The program will reflect that, so it doesn't require training commensurate with FAM's. It will cover a strong marksmanship requirement, firearm retention and tactics.

The pilots involved will do whatever it takes to get the job done. They will receive no pay for their time or risk. Many of my collegues have taken formal training courses over the last six months, or have accellerated their personal handgun training regimens.

It is quite simple, you either hack the program or you don't get the qualifcation.

Hope this helps.

Best,

Grinch
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Old November 20, 2002, 02:11 PM   #19
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Oh, I would add that background checks, in addition to the criminal checks we just got, would be performed to weed out any potentential problems.

The recent incidents with inebriated pilots would have turned up reason not only to reject an armed pilot application, but also to consider termination proceedings. There were big time clues that the guys involved had problems.

Additionally, every applicant for the FFDO program will be subjected to additional scrutiny by fellow employees. Forget about drinking before flying, if I get my way, there will be zero alcohol consumption by FFDO's while armed- even on extended layovers.

Best,

Grinch
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Old November 20, 2002, 02:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
The inane argument of the columnist about the pilots concentrating on landing the plane while a commando team is trying to kill them is oft repeated, and completely specious.
Yeah:

"Gee, it's a good thing I don't have a gun, or I'd be distracted by these screaming guys who just busted down the door and are putting box cutters to my throat while trying to wrest the controls out of my hand."
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Old November 20, 2002, 05:33 PM   #21
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Anyone who believes that pilots can handle a complex piece of machinery like a modern airliner, yet are incapable of handling a simple piece of machinery like a firearm, are simply exercising emotion instead of logic.

I work for an airline, I talk to pilots everyday. They overwhelmingly want to be armed, and feel up to the task. Who knows better than they do on the subject of guns in the cockpit: some ignoramus yellow-journalist or an airline pilot with 20 years experience?

Background checks on pilots??! Because they will be carrying guns?? Am I the only person who was watching tv on 9/11/01, 'cause what I saw taught me most rikky-tik that the plane was the weapon, not the co-pilot armed with a .380 Lorcin. In other words, if the pilot is to be trusted with the airplane, then he can be trusted with a firearm. And if the pilots aren't sober, their being armed is the least of your problems as a passenger.

And, BTW, the most recently made airliners are quite capable of automated take-off and landing.
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Old November 20, 2002, 05:47 PM   #22
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Grinch
Really appreciate your comments on this matter. What you say makes sense to me and appears to come from a lot of experience in the front seat.

One question: why should a 5 day FBI course, background check, etc. for an airline pilot give him anymore legal right to carry on a flight than the same training for CEO Charlie Citizen, Dr. Dudley Doright, mechinac Mike Muffler or any TFL member? Are some folks just more equal than others?

Personally, I would feel just as safe with 2 or 3 grads from Thunder Ranch or Gunsite on the flight as I would a Sky Marshall.

Anyway I'll still stick with my motorhome whatever comes to pass.
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Old November 20, 2002, 06:33 PM   #23
MeekAndMild
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Quote:
I just would feel safer knowing they've had some kind of regulated training, like the type Grinch pointed out through the web link in his post.
Gee, I'd feel a lot safer if political activists had some sort of regulated training. Like, maybe if a person wanted to be an antiRKBA lobbyist they would have to take some basic courses in firearms safety, history of civilization, battlefield first aid and statistics...
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Old November 20, 2002, 11:25 PM   #24
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"Will it be wild west in the skies?"


Only if you break into my cockpit in about 4 months...
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Old November 20, 2002, 11:46 PM   #25
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Newshooter,

Welcome to TFL. Now you may add an avionics technician to your list of friends. I firmly believe that a cockpit is not only easily defensible, but quite survivable. There is very little equipment in a modern cockpit, pilots included, that does not have a redundant system. Let me put it this way, enter a cockpit of a modern plane in flight, empty a cylinder full of .357 mag into random sections of the instrument panel, and a competent pilot could still land safely. Planes aren't indestructible, but stray rounds are hardly fatal to the modern airframe. (It is possible that a bullet might sever a flight control cable and cause catastrophic failure, but that possibility is very remote considering they run under the pilot's and copilot's seats and floorboards in most modern aircraft).

So far as I know, no American airplanes are using auto-land yet. The avionics are quite capable, even programmed, but Americans tend to want a human hand at the wheel. The latest GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning System) even gives the pilot a warning before he has to take control again after an auto-descent. Autopilot will descend and approach, but American pilots haven't warmed up to letting it actually land. Most of them are at the wheel for final.

The vast majority of autopilots can be engaged with the flick of a switch provided a flight plan, heading, VOR, or ILS has been selected and captured by the flight director. In short, even if autopilot is not turned on during the initiation of an attack, it can be turned on instantly in most cases. Some autopilots will automatically disengage with extreme force exherted to the stick, others need to be disengaged manually.


Don't mean to sound like a know-it-all. Just decided to chime in a bit while the topic was still hot.
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