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March 1, 2002
ALPA Petitions DOT for Rule to Allow Firearms in Cockpits
WASHINGTON, D.C.---The union representing most of the nation’s airline pilots has filed a formal petition for rulemaking at the Department of Transportation, seeking new rules that would allow pilots to have firearms in the cockpit under specific conditions.
In the petition, signed Thursday by the president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Capt. Duane Woerth, ALPA said "...an armed flight crewmember would be the last line of defense and would be able to protect his/her crew, the passengers and, ultimately, people and property on the ground. Moreover, armed flight crewmembers would be a deterrent to hijacking because hijackers would have to not only consider how to defeat the multiple security layers but also how they would overcome armed flight crewmembers after breaking into the cockpit. In short, arming flight crewmembers will be in accord with congressional intent and significantly decrease the likelihood of a future hijacking."
Under the ALPA proposal, arming of pilots would be voluntary. Pilots would need background checks and screening, be given training equivalent to that given to federal law enforcement officers, and be deputized as federal law enforcement officers.
ALPA also suggested that the new Transportation Security Administration establish an advisory committee to develop an advisory circular to assist air carriers in formulating and submitting their respective plans to arm flight crewmembers.
TSA currently is reviewing the more than 7,000 public comments it has received on the issue. The ALPA petition is intended to jump-start the next series of administrative actions that would be required, i.e., implementation of a final rule governing the availability of firearms in the cockpit. A recent internal poll by ALPA showed that 73 percent of its pilots favor allowing firearms in the cockpit.
The text of the petition can be viewed at http://www.alpa.org at the Feb. 28 link. The text of ALPA’s comments to TSA’s docket can be accessed at the Feb. 13 link.
ALPA is the world’s oldest and largest airline pilot union. It represents 64,000 airline pilots at 45 carriers in the U.S. and Canada.
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ALPA CONTACTS: John Mazor, Anya Piazza (703) 481-4440