WASHINGTON, D.C. - In response to the overwhelming 87-6 vote in favor of the Boxer-Smith Amendment to the pending Homeland Security legislation (HR 5005), Captain Duane E. Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, released the following statement:
“With the tremendous vote in favor of the Boxer-Smith Amendment, our nation’s representatives are one step closer to augmenting aviation security to an unprecedented level through the creation of a program to protect commercial aircraft from terrorist acts by arming airline pilots.
ALPA fully supports this amendment, which creates a program allowing volunteer pilots who meet strict federal qualification standards to receive training to become Federal Flight Deck Officers, authorized to defend the cockpit against acts of criminal violence and air piracy.
We are confident that the program created today by this legislation will not only add a genuine security enhancement in the very near term, but also give passengers and crews the added confidence that their government had provided all possible resources needed to defend against a terrorist hijacking.
On behalf of airline pilots throughout this country, I thank Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), as well as the bipartisan coalition of Senators who sponsored the amendment, for their leadership on this monumental issue of vital importance to our nation’s security.
The vote today, as well as the House vote on HR 4635 which passed July 10 by a vote of 310-113, demonstrates the public’s overwhelming support for the creation of a cadre of volunteer armed pilots who are going to defend the airplane from hijacking. Our nation has suffered greatly as a result of September 11—all because terrorists assassinated 8 pilots and took over the cockpits of their airliners on that day. We must never leave our pilots so vulnerable again.
We urge Congress to complete all of its work on the underlying legislation in an expeditious manner and the President to sign it into law in the near future.”
ALPA is the world’s largest and oldest pilots union, representing more than 66,000 cockpit crewmembers at 43 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA Web site at www.alpa.org.