The U.S. airline industry comprises some 6,000 aircraft and 90,000 pilots. These pilots – 98.6% of whom are college-educated and have an adverse incident rate orders of magnitude lower than other professions – fly 27,000 flights per day, safely transporting almost 700 million people each year! Preventing new 9/11’s requires 50,000 to 60,000 armed pilots to guarantee 97% of airline flights have a robust deterrence and defense against terrorist attacks. Other security programs have failed miserably and repeatedly.
To attain this participation level, the FFDO program must be modified to encourage pilots to volunteer and streamlined to train them. Dangerous program attributes like requiring carrying firearms in steel locked containers across the country; onerous, months-long application bureaucracies; inadequate credentialing; hostile management; lack of international flight coverage and no officer support; have eviscerated volunteers and stunted the program. Years after 9/11, only a very small percentage of pilots are armed.
Airline surveys suggest 50,000 professional pilots will volunteer to become FFDOs without compensation if the program is simply standardized with other law enforcement agencies’ operating protocols. Because FFDOs are not compensated, FFDO program costs would be a fraction of those of programs like the air marshal program.
This is what it would cost to protect almost 1 billion people a year from terrorist hijackers using FFDOs:
Initial costs - Training of new officers: $164M
[$500/day training, board & admin cost per officer x 7 days + $600 equipment cost (firearm, holster, etc.) = $4100 per officer x 40,000 new officers = $164M]
Annual recurring costs – $14M
[Semi Annual requalification: $100 requalification cost x 2 training sessions per year x 50,000 officers = $10M
Attrition/industry expansion costs (1% per year): $4100 x 500 officers = $2M
Program administration/support costs- $2M]
Ten year annualized Program cost = $29M per year, protects 97% of airline flights
As a comparison, the federal air marshal program costs $688M per year and protects only about 5% of airline flights.
The annualized cost of a standardized FFDO program would be only half a percent of the TSA’s annual budget. ***