Monday, February 20, 2012

Cutting The Federal Flight Deck Officer Program Because TSA Is So Good?

In the FY 2013 Federal Budget, the Obama Administration proposes to cut $13 million from the Federal Flight Deck Officer program. This is the program which trains those airline pilots that volunteer and qualify to be armed in the cockpit. The current funding for FY 2012 is $25 million.

The justification for this cut is that improvements in TSA procedures have "enhanced" airline security to the point where the FFDO program is barely needed.

The Administration proposes to reduce funding for the FFDO program (i.e., deputized, armed pilots) in 2013. As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) focuses its aviation security activities on programs that mitigate the highest amount of risk at the lowest cost, the Budget has prioritized funding in the same manner. The voluntary FFDO program was created as a "last defense" layer of security at a time when comprehensive aviation screening and other physical security measures were not fully developed or deployed on a system-wide basis. Since 2001, however, there have been a number of enhancements to aviation security. TSA now conducts 100 percent screening of all passengers and their carryon items, has overseen installation of reinforced and locking cockpit doors on aircraft that operate in U.S. airspace, and has increased passenger and flight crew awareness to address security risks. Combined, these improvements have greatly lowered the chances of unauthorized cockpit access and represent a comprehensive and redundant risk-mitigation strategy that begins well before passengers board the aircraft.
Are we talking about the same TSA? The one that engages in security kabuki theater while a number of its agents have been found to have been stealing from checked luggage including firearms. If they are corrupt enough to steal, they are corrupt enough to be able to be bribed by terrorists.

If TSA has really made flying so safe, then why not go the whole distance and discontinue the FFDO program entirely? Either the program is needed or it isn't. I, for one, think having armed flight crew is an excellent idea and more cost effective than many of the procedures currently used by TSA.


  1. The idiot in chief has also proposed cutting all of those pesky rules prohibiting him from funding anti gun studies, cutting up m1 carbines, melting down brass, etc..

    This does not surprise me at all.

  2. The armored cockpit doors alone remove 99% of the threat to an aircraft from what a pasenger can in practice carry on their person. If the door remains closed, knives and guns in the cabin are almost meaningless.

    X-ray the carry-on, go (back) to walk-through magnetometers for guns (no way we're going back to pre-'73 any time soon), add walk-through puff-testers for explosives and let me have my freaking pocketknife back.

  3. If the door remains closed...

    And a flight crew member never has to go to the bathroom, take a walk to stretch his legs, etc....

    (Although that's not in practice a great example for this program, which requires the crewman before opening the door to lock his gun away in a issued holster (and then maybe put it in a safe? I forget the details) that seems to be designed to cause accidental discharges. It has a rod through the trigger guard; the firearm issued is the H&K USP Compact with the Law Enforcement Modification, which provides a lighter trigger on the variant that's DAO with no safety or control level.

    So unless another crewman is armed the protection is lost just when it's most needed.)

    1. Move the armored door back past the forward toilet.

      The first class passengers can use the bathroom in coach.

    2. Well ... that didn't happen so the Administration can't legitimately claim these doors are an adequate last line of defense.

  4. And if every passenger and crew member is a negotiable expenditure in a negotiation with someone who wants to die. And terrorists don't know how to circumvent cockpit systems from outside the cockpit and... the Maginot line would work this time if we added forward lookouts with blue uniforms and hand held metal detectors. (pigs can fly... I dunno am I being to subtle ;)

  5. It is inexcusable that we aren't allowing the people that control our commercial aircraft eo employ -what-ever- security tool they themselves prefer. To cut back funding for this one ridiculously tiny program (and it's not really ridiculous because IMO it's tiny by design) is... I don't know. I need to think of a word synonymous with "ridiculouser" except actually a word...