Title XIV Arming Pilots Against Terrorism

Last week, the Homeland Security Bill was approved by the House and Senate and was signed into law today by the President of the United States. The following is a synopsis of section 1401 of Title XIV of the Homeland Security Bill. This part, along with section 1403 will affect us most.

This new law establishes the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) Program. This program will arm certain passenger air carrier pilots. It mandates that the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security establish the FFDO program and gives specific guidelines for doing so. Further, the Under Secretary is given a timeline in which to accomplish this. It is important to remember that this law is merely the authority for establishing the FFDO program. The specifics must be worked out by the TSA during the established time period.

Highlights Include:

1. Within three months, procedural requirements will be established. This includes methods for selection, training, and deputizing pilots.

Also, within the first three months the TSA must establish:

2. After the third month, qualified volunteer pilots must begin training. The particulars for this will be established during the first three months.

3. Methods for the pilots to ensure whether armed LEO passengers are authorized to carry a firearm aboard the aircraft (Universal Access may fit here).

4. Preference for selection to the program will be given to former military or law enforcement personnel however; all pilots that volunteer and are found to be qualified may become FFDOs.

5. Only PICs and SICs are considered "pilots" under this act.

6. Air Carriers may not prohibit or threaten retaliatory action against FFDO pilots or those wishing to become one

7. All training, supervision, and equipment necessary is to be afforded the pilot at no expense to the pilot or the air carrier employing the pilot.

8. The Federal Government and air carriers will not be obligated to compensate a pilot for participating in the program, or for the pilots training or qualification, and requalification to carry firearms under the program. (Lost trips, training displacement, personal time, may have to be negotiated by each MEC)

9. Neither the FFDO, air carrier, or the Federal Government are to be held Liable for Damages in any action brought in Federal or State court arising out of use or failure to use a firearm. The exception to this is if the FFDO is found to be guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct, while defending the flight deck of an aircraft against acts of criminal violence or air piracy.

This section provides the framework for the FFDO program. Within the next three months, many questions will be answered, such as: "how do I apply, how long is training, and what type of weapon will be issued?"

A copy of the Homeland Security bill is available at: http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/terrorism/hsa2002.pdf.

Other bill highlights:

The National Security Committee, in conjunction with your MEC Security Committee is working to influence the particulars of the FFDO program. Please forward any comments, requests, or questions to your MEC Security Committee.