In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, there has been increased vigilance in the United States against aviation terrorism. Now there is a new tool against that threat—armed pilots. Betty Van Etten has the story.
This is the first class of U.S. commercial airline pilots training to carry guns in the cockpit. The pilots practice shooting skills and physical combat techniques to defend against cockpit intruders.
FRANK ROUGHAN AIRLINE PASSENGER
“ It’s a good idea because if someone comes into the cockpit that shouldn’t be there, they need to deal with them.”
Some passengers at Los Angeles International airport expressed support for armed pilots.
THILDY ARNOLD, AIRLINE PASSENGER
“I would feel very safe, I think it’s a wonderful idea. Today you have to be just really be prepared for anything and I think other passengers should feel safe.”
DWAYNE SPRAGLIN, AIRLINE PASSENGER
“I think it’s a great idea. If we’re going to be safe in the plane, I think something like that would be good.”
But there is also a concern about the possibility of an accidental shooting on board.
MEG ROUGHAN, AIRLINE PASSENGER
“You know, I don’t like to have guns in anyone’s hands, but it seems like a necessary evil in a lot of ways.”
The government’s Transportation Security Administration, which trained the pilots, also trains federal air marshals.
NATURAL SOUND MAN SAYING “THIS IS A SIMULATED FLIGHT FROM MOSCOW TO FRANKFURT.”
Armed air marshals fly on both international and domestic flights to detect and defend against aviation terrorism.
NATURAL SOUND, MAN SAYING, “THIS IS A HIJACKING, DON’T ANYBODY MOVE.”
Pilots who have had the training will have to inform their employers if they are armed, but they will not be required to fly with a weapon.