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US anti-terrorism agency DHS wants guns in cockpits on international flights

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are looking to reach agreements with foreign governments to permit US pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit on international flights.

A spokeswoman for the DHS’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirms the agency hopes to expand the country’s federal flight deck officer (FFDO) programme to include overseas services.

The move follows a recent DHS report on the FFDO programme that determined “more needs to be accomplished to maximize the use of FFDOs” such as an expansion to international flights.

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”, the FFDO programme is run by the TSA’s Federal Air Marshals Service and has armed thousands of domestic pilots.

Long a proponent of the FFDO programme, the all-volunteer, nonprofit Airline Pilots Security Alliance (APSA) notes that current legislation permits the US State Department to negotiate agreements with foreign countries to allow pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit.

That the DHS and State Department are now interested in taking that next step appears to show an “attitudinal change” on the part of these agencies, says an APSA spokesman.

But, he says, actual inception “has not taken place” and “probably won’t be for many months”.

The State Department could not provide immediate comment

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