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Senate Should Be Commended for Beginning to Arm Pilots to Enhance Airline Safety

For Immediate Release. September 9, 2002On Thursday, September 5, 2002, the Senate made a step in the right direction to increase airline safety by passing on an 87-6 vote the Boxer-Smith Amendment (S.AMDT.4491) that would prohibit airlines and the federal government from barring armed pilots.  Also, for flight attendants, the amendment mandates a minimum of 28 hours of self-defense training.

Current security measures fail to provide adequate airline passenger protection in the event of terrorists attempting to take over airplanes.  For example, in the United States (U.S.), with most air marshals working apparently in pairs, of the 35,000 daily commercial flights less than one percent are being protected.  And according to the pilot’s union, the marshal’s program would cost annually $10 billion and require a workforce the size of the U.S. Marine Corps to protect most planes.

Although it is harder today for terrorists to take over an airplane as a result of pre-flight screening and passenger awareness, there still have been several security breaches throughout the nation’s airports that have forced airplanes in mid-flight to return to the airport to have passengers screened for a second time by metal detectors.  Also, making it through security in recent weeks have been long scissors, box cutters, knives, and guns.

Terrorists are encouraged to try to attempt to take over an airplane if they know they are not adequately defended. Arming pilots is just one way to effectively deter terrorists from such actions.

“Allowing trained armed pilots is a proactive approach to preventing terrorists from turning airplanes into weapons of mass destruction,” said Dr. Joel P. Rutkowski, president of the American Voice Institute of Public Policy.  “Allowing pilots to be armed will provide a last line of defense to keep terrorists out of the cockpit because pilots can defend the airplane’s controls from intruder entrance.  It is too late to do much more than have the U.S. air force shoot down a terrorist compromised airplane which will result in the lose of many lives just because opponents of armed pilots feel guns do not belong in the cockpit.”

For Interviews Contact:

Joel P. Rutkowski, P.h.D.
President, The American Voice Institute Of Public Policy

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