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Some U.S. Pilots to Get Stun Gun Training

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Some U.S. Pilots to Get Stun Gun Training

Old 19th Oct 2001, 09:38
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Arrow Some U.S. Pilots to Get Stun Gun Training

Some Pilots To Receive Stun-Gun Training

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 19, 2001; Page A08

At least one commercial airline will train pilots to use stun guns to stop hijackers, even though it is currently illegal to have such weapons on flights.

Stun guns must be fired within 15 feet of a target to be effective. When fired, the guns deliver high-voltage shocks that can immobilize a person for as long as 15 minutes.

Mesa Air Group Inc., said yesterday that it would train its 1,200 pilots to use stun guns. Last week, British Airways PLC said it was thinking of doing the same thing.

Mesa said it would begin training over the next three months. The Phoenix-based airline has 116 aircraft with 832 daily departures to 153 cities and 38 states, plus Canada and Mexico. It operates as US Airways Express out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport and elsewhere in the East and Midwest. It operates as America West Express in the West and as Mesa Airlines in New Mexico.

"The odds of one of our planes being targeted are practically zero, but the perception is there," said Mesa spokeswoman Benet Wilson. "Anything we can do to give [passengers] that extra boost of security, we will do."

The Mesa spokeswoman said the airline knows that pilots are not allowed to have stun guns in cockpits. But Mesa expects Congress to pass an air-travel security bill that would permit them.

Last week, the Senate unanimously approved a bill that would authorize the Federal Aviation Administration to permit pilots to carry firearms in flight. The measure calls for a study of the feasibility of using nonlethal weapons to disable hijackers. The bill is bogged down in the House in a dispute over whether baggage screeners should be federal employees.

Several airlines have announced plans to strengthen cockpit doors or reexamine employee training. American Airlines said it has installed metal bars on 350 of its 900 jet aircraft and plans to outfit the rest by year-end. "We're looking at our training programs now," said American spokesman Al Becker.

But American has "no plans to allow weapons on the airplanes."

The Association of Flight Attendants said it wants additional training for its members to learn how to thwart a hijacker with Mace or by other nonlethal means. Jeff Zack, a spokesman for the organization, said the group does not want pilots to have guns.

"You give a pilot a gun and you give him another reason to open the door" to the cockpit, Zack said.

Some pilot groups disagree. "We favor lethal weapons," said Gregg Overman, a spokesman for Allied Pilots Association in Fort Worth, which represents 11,500 American Airlines pilots.

Several passengers who have flown since Sept. 11 said pilots have tried to soothe their fears by emphasizing safety precautions. On an American Airlines flight this week from Aruba to Miami, a Washington Post employee aboard said, the pilot told passengers that "pilots are now allowed to carry weapons in the cockpit."

Becker said weapons, except a cockpit fire ax, are not allowed on board. He said that the pilot was probably mistaken but that American had no plans to restrict or script what pilots tell passengers.

"We simply allow them to make announcements that are responsible and reflect our policies," he said.
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Old 19th Oct 2001, 21:10
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More eyewash B.S.

Why don't they just give them firearms training? They can't carry guns either! It appears to be a weak attempt on Mesa's part to win the confidance of the flying public.

I am sure that Joe Bagadonuts will be reassured that the pilots KNOW how to use a stun gun (that is still in the stun gun store) as the BE-02 is headed toward a building!

If this logic is correct, then my pax can be reassured that I KNOW how to use the pistol that is sitting in my gun safe at home!

BTW, stun guns have to touch the assailant. The media, amazingly enough , are wrong about the "15 feet". They have confused stun guns with tasers, another "weapon" of questionable effectiveness.........

The show must go on!

[ 19 October 2001: Message edited by: Tripower455 ]
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