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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
US rules out cockpit guns
Pilot shows off a new reinforced cockpit door
Doors are not enough, many pilots believe
Pilots in the United States will not be allowed to carry guns in the cockpits of commercial planes, the government has said.

The announcement by a senior transport official follows months of debate over whether arming pilots would deter hijackers.


Pilots need to concentrate on flying the plane

Transport undersecretary John Magaw
Airline pilots and their unions have been pressing for guns, to prevent a repeat of the 11 September attacks in America.

However Undersecretary of State for transport security John Magaw said there was no need for this as federal air marshals, who now fly on commercial flights, are armed and trained.

Mr Magaw - speaking at a Senate committee hearing - said a formal announcement of the decision would be made later in the week.

Stun gun debate

"After a lot of consultation and realising my experience in law enforcement, I will not authorise firearms in the cockpit," Mr Magaw said.

"Pilots need to concentrate on flying the plane", he said, adding that the air marshals "will do whatever they have to, to the point of giving up their own life" for the security of the plane.
US Transport Secretary Norman Mineta
Transport Secretary Norman Mineta has supported stun guns

Opposition to allowing pilots firearms had previously been voiced by senior administration officials including Transport Secretary Norman Mineta and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

However the use of non-lethal weapons such as stun guns is still being considered.

One company, United Airlines, has bought 1,300 stun guns and is training its 9,000 pilots to use them.

Other airlines are studying the idea.

Pilots wanted the government to consider arming flight crews as part of the overhaul of aviation security following the 11 September attacks.

Apart from the introduction of air marshals, airport checks have been improved and cockpit doors reinforced on commercial airliners as part of moves to boost security.

See also:

05 Mar 02 | Americas
11 Sep 01 | Americas
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