The US Air pilot who experienced an accidental discharge was following TSA's "ill-conceived" weapon handing rules, according to a press release from Airline Pilots Security Alliance. The group, formed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, advocates for pilots who choose to be able to retain command of their aircraft by force if necessary. Read their press release here. And you might want to visit their web site here.
“The pilot was trying to lock his gun and remove the holster in an airplane going 300 miles per
hour in preparation for landing and the padlock depressed the trigger,” said a federal flight
deck officer who declined to be identified. “TSA knew this could happen but didn’t get rid of
A special working group within the Federal Air Marshal Service recommended TSA adopt
standard federal weapons carriage rules for flight officers last year to prevent accidents. But,
TSA officials declined to implement the group’s recommendation.
I was not familiar with the idiotic gun handling rules, which require that the firearm be carried "off-body" and padlocked(!) in a gun safe, but I'm not at all surprised. I have just enough conspiracy buff in me to wonder whether the pilot hadn't been somehow set up. It turns out my suspicions were not far from the mark. It's no secret that the Feds hate the armed pilots program. They must have figured that sooner or later there would be an AD arising from the rules.
Being a frequent flyer, my hat's off to any pilot who puts up with the hassle. For openers the only school for armed crew members is in Artesia, New Mexico. That's 137 miles from El Paso International Airport, 143 miles from Midland Internaltional Airport. It's a nice place, but it's not exactly the crossroads of the world.
In 1984 Neal Knox floated an idea to arm pilots after a .44 Magnum was found in the wreckage of a commuter flight. It turns out that a disgruntled employee of the airline had smuggled it aboard and shot the pilot. That was during the height of a rash of hijackings in which the standard procedure was to cooperate. At that time Dad was wondering what would happen if a suicidal terrorist got to the controls of an airliner.