Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Cargo Pilots Get Certified to Carry Guns in Cockpit

ARTESIA, N.M. — Commercial jet pilots aren’t the only ones getting certified to carry weapons in the cockpit. Now those who command cargo planes are also training to defend themselves against inflight terrorist attacks.

Those who pass the rigorous Transportation Security Administration course in Artesia, N.M., will become federal flight deck officers (FFDOs) and will be authorized to use deadly force to protect the cockpit if necessary. [...]

Though passenger pilots have been coming to the remote training center for a year and get $1,600 each from the government, the initial version of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (search) didn’t include cargo pilots in the funding. Their unions are fighting hard to get that changed.

Cargo plane pilots would be particularly vulnerable in terrorist attacks. Their cockpits are constructed without reinforced doors and take off and land without the comprehensive ground security or passenger screening used for commercial flights. If they take people along for the ride, the guests are seated in the cockpit right behind the pilots. [...]

Well, I am all for pilots being able to arm themselves, and I do think it wouldn't be a waste of money to pay for cargo pilots to receive this training, but I gotta kind of wonder why we have gone from being wary of people with box cutters to being wary of the boxes themselves. Seems like unless you're hauling a crate full of ninjas, there's a rather low risk of an in-flight attack. I think if there is some question about the "guests" who might be flying along, it would probably be better to make them go through the same screening process everyone else has to go through.

And in all of this, the bigger question is why pilots have been deliberately put through such an onerous and inconvenient training regimen.

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