Captain Bob Lambert, President, APSA Press Release
(412) 607-5403 Tuesday, July 28, 2003
Mr. Brian Darling, APSA Spokesman
APSA Urges President Bush to Accelerate the Armed Pilots Program
The Airline Pilots' Security Alliance (APSA) urged President Bush to accelerate the Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) program, the program enacted as part of legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security.
The Washington Post reported today that Gordon Johndroe, Spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said that US intelligence has information that al Qaeda has an interest in "using commercial aviation here in the United States and abroad to further their cause." Bob Lambert, President of APSA said, "The armed pilots program needs to be accelerated by President Bush today. There are not enough armed pilots to create a deterrent for continued aviation terrorism."
This past week, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill conference was completed containing language to arm cargo pilots. "The arming of cargo pilots is one element of increased layers of aviation security and Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) are to be commended for fighting to increase cargo carrier security," said Lambert
APSA urges the Bush Administration to take the following steps immediately to increase the security of commercial aviation:
1) Accelerate the armed pilots program so that more than 44 pilots are armed to fight the war on terror;
2) Sign legislation to arm cargo pilots;
3) Eliminate the mandate that pilots carry firearms in lock boxes; and,
4) Put in place screening standards for FFDOs that are consistent with the Federal Air Marshals program.
Brian Darling, APSA spokesman said, "the Transportation Security Administration has done a terrible job of arming pilots to date. Forty-four armed pilots are not enough and, although training is being conducted currently, there needs to be a radical acceleration of the armed pilots program to deter al Qaeda from targeting commercial aircraft for September 11th style hijackings."
Currently, only one facility is conducting training and at the current rate of 50 pilots per week, only 2,600 pilots per year will be trained. Today, there are under 100 armed pilots, a full 22 months after the horrendous attacks of September 11, 2001. APSA estimated 40,000 volunteer pilots would seek admission into the armed pilots program. At the current rate of training, it would take 15 years to train 40,000 armed pilots. The current slow pace of the Department of Homeland Security is harming the national security of our nation. The President has it in his power tomorrow to invoke an executive order to allow volunteer airline pilots to carry lethal weapons to defend the cockpits of our nations airliners with expedited training. Clearly, had any of the pilots of the hijacked aircraft been armed on September 11th, at best those hijackings, through deterrence alone would have been thwarted, at worst, the pilots would have been provided a fighting chance to defend the cockpits from terrorists.
Airline Pilots' Security Alliance 8190 Beechmont Ave # 340, Cincinnati, OH 45255-6117