July 13, 2002
Fly the locked-and-loaded skies

Fly the locked-and-loaded skies I'm somewhat of an agnostic on the issue of allowing airline pilots to carry guns as a deterrent to hijacking. I don't oppose the idea, since it's rather hard to make the case that the events of 9/11 could have turned out any worse with armed pilots on board. Given the recent news stories about drunk pilots, all I'm asking is that there be some kind of oversight when it comes to determining who gets to carry guns on a plane. Is it too much to ask that the gun-toting pilots be required to take regular marksmanship and gun-safety tests?

What I really want to know is how much has been done with the proposals to reinforce cockpit doors? This June 19 Reuters story contains the following quote from Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar about the proposal to arm pilots:

The House Transportation Committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, had called the original House proposal "horrible." He said he embraced the compromise on Wednesday because other security measures, such as reinforced cockpit doors and the screening of all baggage for explosives, were not completely in place.
How "not completely in place" are they?

One thing I did find while searching for information was this Aviation Safety newsletter from April, which pointed to this Transport Canada news release. Here's what our neighbors to the north are doing:

The Government of Canada has already made numerous enhancements to the air transportation security system since the attacks of September 11, 2001. For example, the Government of Canada:
  • required that cockpit doors on all Canadian airlines' passenger flights, domestic and international, be locked for the full duration of flights; and

  • committed more than $2.2 billion in the December 2001 budget to new aviation security initiatives, including:

    • the creation of the new Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, which is responsible for the provision of several key aviation security services including pre-board screening;
    • implementing a national program of armed RCMP officers on selected domestic and international flights;

    • funding of up to $128 million per year for pre-board screening; and

    • funding of more than $1 billion over the next five years for the purchase, deployment, maintenance and operation of new explosives detection systems.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 13, 2002 to National news