ALPA Responds to Magaw Statement against Arming Pilots

WASHINGTON, D.C.—-The following statement was issued today by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, in response to statements by John Magaw, undersecretary for transportation security, that he would rule against pilots being allowed to carry firearms in the cockpit:

We are disappointed, but not surprised, by this announcement. The administration, under the influence of opposition by the airlines, has been telegraphing its intent for several months now.

ALPA has made a very strong case on the merits of our proposal, which I announced at Congressional hearings on Sept. 25. We have demonstrated the need to arm pilots against terrorist hijackers. We have examined the objections and have shown in each instance why the objections are misleading or wrong.

The government already has told us that if terrorists take control of one of our cockpits, they will send military aircraft to shoot down the airliner and all its crew and passengers. In the face of such choices, we do not understand why these same government officials refuse to give pilots a last chance to prevent such a tragedy.

On Thursday, the House Aviation Subcommittee will mark up H.R. 4635, the Young-Mica bill that would mandate a government program for selective training and arming of airline pilots. This bill contains all the necessary safeguards and elements for a responsible and effective method to add this urgently needed, final layer of defense of the cockpit. At this point, our only recourse is to call on Congress to reassert its wishes regarding firearms in the cockpit through the Young-Mica bill.


ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its Web site is Click on the “Firearms in the Cockpit” graphic to go to a page with documents outlining ALPA’s positions and actions on this issue.