LOS ANGELES – Even though airline pilots have voiced support for the concept of carrying guns in the cockpit (search), the majority of them are staying away from getting training because of what they consider government red tape.
Of the approximately 100,000 U.S. pilots eligible for training in the program, only a small fraction has signed up, pilots told Fox News. The federal Transportation Security Administration (search) will not disclose the exact number of pilots who have received or signed up for the training, and TSA officials will only say that "hundreds of pilots" have been trained.
Congress approved the training program in November 2002, more than a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks where terrorists took control of four U.S. airliners. The first class of pilots to graduate with firearm training did so last April.
Pilots who spoke to Fox News outlined problems they saw with the training. They said the lengthy application, the three-hour psychological exam and the unpaid leave and pay-your-own-way training in the New Mexico desert, among other things, are too frustrating.
Both pilots and airline security experts say the airlines are the real problem — using their influence with the TSA to discourage training because the airlines are opposed to arming pilots because of the liabilities involved.
But the TSA says the program is still in its infancy and will continue to get better.
"Time will tell and of course we are always willing to listen and we are always wiling to learn and to see what we can do to make the program better," said Nico Melendez of the TSA.
Click here to watch a fair and balanced report by Fox News' Anita Vogel.