The White House under President Obama wants to remove $25 million from the Federal Flight Deck Officers program that arms and trains airline pilots.
Minnesota Republican Rep. Chip Craavack says the program is cost effective in protecting passengers in the air stating it costs only $15 per flight to arm a pilot, compared to the costs of checking every suitcase.
“According to the estimates by the Airlines Pilots Association, FFDOs only cost $15 per flight segment. Let me say that again: To protect an aircraft and possibly the potential of thousands of people, the FFDO costs $15 per flight”, Craavack said.
Captain Tracy W. Price says that the program was stopped the summer before 9/11 happened in New York and warned it may happen again if terrorists know that pilots aren’t armed.
“We had a really bad cockpit breach, four of them. We lost 3,000 Americans. We learned that day that this is a horrible, horrible experiment,” Price said.
“The Obama administration has had an institutional hostility towards the concept of arming pilots, and especially the FFDO program, since the beginning,” Lt. Col. Al Aitken, a retired Marine who heads a security consulting group for training and arming pilots.
Obama’s Homeland Security security Janet Napolitano had this to say about slashing the budget:
“I think the reduction for the Federal Flight Deck Officer program is predicated on the fact that the program is not risk-based,” she said. “We are moving, in the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), to risk-based systems, and those are the ones that we’re going to put money into.”
The Dept. of Homeland Security stated that arming pilots didn’t meet a threshold that mitigated the highest amount of risk at the lowest cost.