- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

From combined dispatches
Commercial pilots who want to carry guns in the cockpit would have to undergo psychological and background checks before being selected for a five-day training program under a plan announced yesterday by the Transportation Security Administration.
The first group of 48 pilots could begin training in a month, the agency said.
It said the plan is preliminary and could change between now and Tuesday's deadline for the agency to issue rules for the program, which was approved by Congress last year.
The plan calls for the training to include marksmanship, lessons on legal policies and defensive tactics, agency spokesman Robert Johnson said.
"We're focusing on their ability to be a good federal law-enforcement officer in a crisis situation at 48,000 feet," he said.
After completing training, pilots would be issued a .40-caliber, semiautomatic pistol and given authority to have the weapon with them only when they're flying a commercial aircraft, Mr. Johnson said.
When going to and from the airport, they would be required to carry the holstered weapon inside a locked case inside a bag so no one could tell they had a gun, he said.
Though Congress didn't give the TSA any money to train pilots or pay for guns, the agency assembled $500,000 from various accounts for a test program. The agency has asked for $20 million to run a broader program.
In other airlines news yesterday, the European Union reached a deal for sharing passenger information on trans-Atlantic flights that satisfies both Washington's new anti-terrorism measures and EU data privacy rules, officials said.
After two days of talks in Brussels, U.S. Deputy Customs Commissioner Douglas Browning and officials of the European Commission agreed on an interim arrangement that would require European airlines to provide passenger data to U.S. authorities starting March 5.
In return, the United States gave assurances about the "appropriate handling" of the records, which include not only names but also the passenger's itinerary, contact phone number and other details, such as credit-card numbers.
"That will allow the airlines to be in compliance with the U.S. law at the same time that they meet the EU data-protection requirements," a spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the European Union said.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge tried last November during a stop in Brussels to reach an agreement but was stymied by strict EU data-protection rules.
"We were fully behind the Americans in their fight against terrorism, and we wanted to promote cooperation and flexibility," said EU spokesman Gilles Gantelet. "Of course we have this very difficult legal situation."
He described the new agreement as a "transitional system" until a permanent arrangement makes its way through the EU legislative process.
"We think assurances given by the United States are sufficient on the law," he said, but a formal arrangement would have to be approved by the 15 EU governments and the European Parliament.
The European Airlines Association, whose members would be required to transmit the data, reacted positively. "It seems to be a favorable outcome for what was a very tricky problem," said spokesman David Henderson.


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