Cockpit Weapons -- Devilish Details Of Deployment
The homeland security bill that became law late last month allows airline pilots to carry weapons aloft, but the next step is not an easy one: Volunteers must be recruited, training programs must be put in place and somebody has to pay for it all. The new law stipulates that the training is to begin by February 25, but no funding is provided by Congress. Al Aitken, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, told the Associated Press that he expects about 30,000 of the 100,000 airline pilots in the U.S. will volunteer. "It's not something that we're eager to take on," he said, "but as responsible Americans we realize it's something that has to be done." Industry groups are now working with the government to establish a training plan. One such proposal now in consideration would consist of a five-day, 48-hour course in which pilots would fire off 2,000 rounds of ammunition, and then participate in a simulated hijacking. The Air Line Pilots Association says it still is lobbying to change the new law's provision that excludes cargo pilots from the voluntary program. Bulletproof cockpit doors are due to be installed by April.