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Arming Cockpit Crews

From: (Doug Millard)
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 10:05:34 -0800 (AKDT)
Subject: Arming cockpit crews

Dear President Bush,

I am in favor of arming pilots. Defensive weapons SAVE more lives than they destroy. Statistics show that where there is access to defensive means there is less crime and vice versa. The District of Columbia is
proof of that.

Logistically the "Sky Marshall" program would be a nightmare. With 30 some thousand flights a day, considering layovers and sick leave, the manpower and expense to cover just 50 percent of those flights would be enormous. I am not in favor of a "FEEL GOOD" approach just for show. Lets look at the reality of the situation. In earlier days when I was in the cockpit, (52-81) hijackers were people who wanted to go someplace and land "ALIVE". Today, they are fanatics who wish to "DIE" for a cause and take as many innocent people as possible with them.

To accomplish this gruesome objective, they will populate a given flight with as many comrades as they think necessary to complete the task. A lone sky marshal attempting to corral a "GROUP" of death seeking religious fanatics scattered randomly throughout the plane would stand little chance of prevailing.

In today's atmosphere, the cockpit and control of the aircraft seems to be the objective in order to convert the aircraft into a guided missile. Consider if you will, a plane with an impenetrable cockpit door. Hijackers have taken command of the cabin and are demanding access to the cockpit. To emphasis their desires, they start cutting the throats of those in the back at the rate of one a minute starting with the flight attendants. What Christian flight crew is going to be able to sit there while carnage is rampantly being carried out in the cabin?

I can think of two possible solutions. Arm the cockpit crew then allow the hijackers into the cockpit to face an equipped, alerted and prepared crew, and or modify the aircraft so as to disable the emergency oxygen system (in the cabin) and flood the cabin with some type of gas that will put all cabin occupants temporarily to sleep.

There is no easy answer to the problem but lets try some imaginative steps. Arming the cockpit is an old method that was outlawed by the FAA in the 70's. Disarming didn't work, maybe it's time to bring it back.

Doug Millard
Capt. Wien Air Alaska, Ret.
Former ALPA Central Safety Chairman

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