WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it is opening to cargo pilots its Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program that trains and arms volunteer aviators to protect the aircraft cockpit. Applications are being accepted on a secure web site that is available to pilots and other stakeholder groups.
With the enactment of the Vision 100 - Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (Public Law 108-176), the FFDO program was expanded beyond commercial and charter passenger pilots. Now, cargo pilots and other flightcrew members - specifically flight engineers and navigators on both passenger and cargo planes - are also eligible for the program.
"Expanding the FFDO program adds yet another layer of security on passenger and cargo aircraft to protect against those who would do us harm, "said Acting TSA Administrator David M. Stone. "We welcome this important opportunity to expand a very successful program."
The FFDO program was created as part of the Homeland Security Act to select, train, equip, and supervise volunteer pilots to defend flight decks of passenger aircraft against acts of criminal violence and air piracy. After a prototype class in April 2003, TSA refined the training regimen and began continuous classes in July 2003. In January 2004, class capacity at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M., was doubled. A large number of pilots, who are deputized as Federal law enforcement officers, now contribute to aviation security throughout the U.S. on a daily basis.
To apply, interested volunteers access the secure web site and complete a questionnaire. The selection process also includes an hour-long computerized assessment, an interview, and a background check.
Accepted volunteers pay for travel and for lodging and other daily expenses while attending initial and recurrent training. Total expenses borne by pilots for per diem and lodging while attending the program are less than $200. TSA provides the training, weapon, and ground transportation from airports in Albuquerque and Roswell, N.M., and El Paso, Texas. Persons completing the training are well equipped to defend the flight deck of an aircraft.