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A Critical Look at Arming Pilots Essay

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Updated: Apr 27th, 2020

Today the problem of the public security is discussed at all the social and legal levels. Terrorist attacks became the real threat for the people’s everyday peaceful life, and the problem of security acquired new aspects since the events of September 11 revealed the most dangerous outcomes of the terrorists’ actions. It was the start of the war on terrorism and of the intensive development and improvement of the protective systems against the possible attacks.

The public and government concentrated on the role of pilots in the struggle with terrorists in airplanes. The question of the necessity for pilots to be armed became widely discussed, and this issue still remains rather controversial. However, commercial pilots should not be armed because the fact of the pilots’ carrying guns contributes to creating only the additional threats for passengers, but not the improvement of security in airplanes.

The Federal Flight Deck Officer Program (FFDO) was put into action in 2003. This program was discussed by the commercial pilots enthusiastically and many of them began to participate in it. Moreover, at the governmental level the authorities stated that such a program can become the effective preventive measure and contribute to the issue of the national defense (Renna).

At first sight, the idea of allowing commercial pilots’ carrying guns in their cockpits as one of the methods to defend the passengers seems to be rational. Nevertheless, it is not the pilot’s direct task to defend the passengers in the situation of the terroristic attacks.

The effectiveness of the usage of guns in the cockpits cannot be considered as obvious because such a situation creates many threats for the passengers of the airplane.

During the discussion of the program project the leaders of the country’s airlines argued on its development accentuating the fact that airline companies spend much funds on safety of the flights and try to make the airplanes free from any kinds of weapons because of the high risks. According to the airlines’ leaders, the idea of allowing the pilots to carry guns may lead to the opposite dangerous results (Renna). The security of the passengers should be realized outside the pilots’ cockpits in order to be effective.

It is more reasonable to improve the security systems in the airplanes without involving the pilots in this process because the effectiveness of their actions when they use guns cannot be adequately high with references to that pressure they could experience during possible hijackings.

Furthermore, there were situations, for instance in 2008, when the pilot accidentally fired his gun, and that is why the life of the other pilot and the lives of the passengers were at risk (Fraher). Today, when the whole secure system in the pilots’ cockpits is improved the possible usage of guns can only destroy it.

The enthusiasm of commercial pilots who accepted the development of the FFDO program can be explained by the fact of the general emotional impact caused by the treats of the hijackings (Renna). It is important to determine the combination of the factors which influenced the pilots’ discussion of the program.

The situation of the terroristic hijackings includes the risk of the progress of many pressures on pilots. The external pressures are connected with the necessity of providing the possible security and developing the solutions to the issue of hijackings (Fraher). Pilots should be able to act according to the instructions and with avoiding all the possible risks for the passengers.

The opportunity to use guns can be considered as the chance to control the situation. Nevertheless, the real conditions of the pilot’s work do not allow the effective usage of this opportunity, especially with references to the internal pressures. The internal pressures are connected with changing the circumstances of the commercial pilot’s work after the situation 9/11 and with their psychological reaction to the fact of the terroristic hijackings (Fraher).

The peculiarities of the realization of the FFDO program also cannot be considered as quite successful for providing the necessary security support of the passengers during the flight (White Paper). Many problems of the FFDO program development are connected with the drawbacks of its implementation. The most significant aspects are the inability to provide the effective training for all the commercial pilots who participate in the program and the lack of the pilot’s rights.

Thus, to provide an effective result, pilots should have the right to use the guns outside their cockpits. Nevertheless, this fact can also be discussed as the threat for the passengers. Moreover, to react to the issues successfully, pilots should be skillful and perfectly trained (Armed Pilots Bill Flies through House). However, it is also necessary to focus on the fact that pilots do not have the real rights to use the guns as the officials (Renna; Wilber).

The idea to use the armed commercial pilots for the realization of the preventive measures and implementation of principles of the national defense cannot be discussed as effective because it involves a lot of provocative aspects as the pilots’ impossibility to use the guns in the cockpits effectively, the lack of the necessary skills, the risk for the passengers. The Federal Flight Deck Officer Program is a rather controversial method of the struggle with terrorism, and it has definite weaknesses in its development.

Works Cited

. 2002. Web.

Fraher, Amy L. “Flying the Friendly Skies”: Why US Commercial Airline Pilots Want to Carry Guns”. Human Relations 57.5 (2004): 573-595. Print.

Renna, Monica G. “Fire in the Sky: A Critical Look at Arming Pilots with Handguns”. Journal of Air Law and Commerce 68. 4 (2003): 859-889. Print.

White Paper: Recommendations to Improve the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program 2012. PDF file.

Wilber, Del Quentin. . 2007. Web.

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