Guns In The Cockpit -- Inside The Training

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A Focus On Decision-Making...

Since the debate over arming airline and, finally, cargo pilots began two years ago, the focus has been on the gun. Where it's kept, how it's carried, who gets to have one. But when approved pilots finally get to a remote federal training center in New Mexico to become Federal Flight Deck Officers, they find the training much less about shooting bad guys than not shooting anyone else. "The actual amount of attention paid to the mental preparation as opposed to the physical is pretty amazing," a trainee, who couldn't be identified for the story, told Knight Ridder. "We're taking the mindset of the terrorist and applying the appropriate level of force." And that may take some explaining. The Knight Ridder account represents the first instance we're aware of that a reporter has been allowed inside the training center. In fact, earlier reports about the training indicated that pilots were threatened with termination (of their jobs) if they divulged any details of the training. There were also anonymous accounts (rumors and opinion) that harsh, unpleasant conditions associated with the training -- imposed by the TSA -- were intended to not-so-subtly discourage pilots from taking part. For the record, said Knight Ridder's story, only 3 percent of pilots who apply are turned down, only 2 percent because of the psychological screening. Less than 1 percent fail the course. "When you're through the program, you can see what is needed to produce a person who carries a weapon," said one candidate.