The US Senate has overwhelmingly approved legislation allowing airline pilots to carry guns, after a fierce lobbying campaign by pilots' unions. Like a bill passed by the US House of Representatives, the legislation authorises arming any US commercial airline pilot who receives appropriate firearms training.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) estimates 85,000 pilots will be eligible to participate in the guns-in-the-cockpit programme. US airlines, however, oppose arming their pilots. Delta Air Lines chief executive Leo Mullin has "serious concerns", saying: "The idea of introducing thousands of weapons onboard aircraft is dangerously counterproductive"

TSA acting head James Loy says: "Literally dozens of issues need to be resolved" to implement the programme. These include complying with the varying gun-control laws of US states and foreign countries; training thousands of pilots; determining how pilots will store and maintain guns and carry the firearms through airports; deciding where the guns will be placed in cockpits; and working out the legal liability ramifications of accidental shootings. Loy says the programme will cost $900 million to launch and $250 million a year to maintain. It has not been decided who will pay - airlines or the government.

Source: Flight International