The Washington Times reported in a scathing editorial on Tuesday that the Obama administration has quietly diverted some 2 million dollars away from the armed pilot, Federal Flight Deck Officer program, and into a new program of inspectors to investigate existing FFDOs. TSA says the criticism is unfounded as they have a strong commitment to the success and growth of the FFDO program and that the $2 million shift is to provide administrative support for the program which they say has outgrown the current structure.
The real truth of the matter probably lies somewhere between the Times’ editorial and TSA’s claim.While the program has been steadily growing and probably is becoming difficult to effectively supervise, any time a bureaucracy adds more bureaucracy to improve “oversight” of a program, the result is almost always going to be more red tape and less progress.TSA has consistently drug their feet on the FFDO program; making the application and training process ridiculously complicated and intrusive and placing the only training facility in the most out of the way location possible.There are also issues of pilots not being reimbursed for many of the expenses that they must pay out-of-pocket.If ensuring adherence to the rules is becoming too difficult, rather than expanding the supervisory and compliance staff, the better solution would be to simply reduce the number of hoops FFDOs are required to jump through.
Airline pilots are highly trained professionals.Most of them have military experience and many continue service in the National Guard and Reserves.As Neal Knox said when he proposed creating an armed pilot program back in 1988; "If a captain can be entrusted with a $30-million aircraft and 300 passengers, he can be trusted with a firearm."Unfortunately the politicians and "experts" didn’t listen to Neal in 1988 when he pointed out that without the "last resort" of an armed pilot to protect an aircraft, commercial airliners are "sitting ducks" because no ammount of screening is ever going to be perfect. Since the attacks of 9/11/01 the options have narrowed even further because if the pilot and crew can’t maintain control of their aircraft, the next alternative is a missile from a fighter jet – a fighter jet which is very likely to e piloted by a current or future airline pilot. Does anyone question the wisdom of that pilot being armed?
You’ve probably heard that a pilot accidentally shot a hole in his airplane recently. A pilots’ group blames dangerous security rules and equipment, but others say that the pilot in question had to violate several of the most basic security procedures for this to happen. Most importantly, Only handle the gun when the plane is parked. Here is a video explaining and demonstrating the "security" procedures Federal Flight Deck Officers (armed pilots) must go through. Specifics about all of the FFDO firearm procedures are not available to the public, but the suggestion in this video that the gun must be removed and locked every time the cabin door is opened is apparently not accurate.
Notice that the gun is often pointed directly at the demonstrator during the process. I don’t want to go shooting with this guy.