ALPA Fights for FFDO Funding on Program’s 10th Anniversary

ALPA is fighting an administration proposal to eliminate funding for the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program, a key layer in aviation security, even as the Association commemorated the program’s success on April 12, its 10th anniversary.

“For the last 10 years, the FFDO program has proven to be a cost-effective tool in protecting our nation’s airliners from potential terrorist attacks and is a strong deterrent against any such attempts. It does so at a tremendous value to the federal government, costing only a few dollars per protected flight,” said ALPA president Capt. Lee Moak. “Thousands of ALPA and other airline pilots have made many personal sacrifices to protect our nation’s airline passengers, crews, and cargo by serving as FFDOs. I commend each of them for their service and commitment. ALPA will lead the fight to ensure this crucial program continues to protect our nation’s airliners.”

Support the Call to Action.

Last week, ALPA expressed adamant opposition to the administration’s proposal to eliminate FFDO funding in its proposed FY14 federal budget. The program operates on a budget of about $25 million annually, roughly the same amount as when it began in 2003 with only 44 deputized officers. Today, thousands of trained pilot volunteers serve.

ALPA successfully defended FFDO funding in 2012 when the administration proposed slashing the program’s budget by more than 50 percent as part of its FY13 budget.

“Congress rejected the administration’s previous attempt to cut this critical program, recognizing the security it provides to our national air transportation system,” said Moak. “ALPA urges Congress to act again by rejecting this misguided proposal and to fully fund this critical security program.”

The government has hailed the FFDO program as one of the most effective enhancements in aviation security since the events of September 11, 2001. It provides a critical layer of defense in protecting airline flight decks from hostile takeover, thereby helping to ensure the survival of the aviation industry.

ALPA conceived of the program and was instrumental in forming the government–industry partnership that was ultimately successful in achieving it, which became a reality with the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The Association worked with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the Transportation Security Administration on the program’s design and implementation.

There is still strong support for the FFDO program within the pilot ranks. A recent call for pilots to volunteer for a few training slots this June produced more than 800 responses from ALPA pilots over the course of a few days.

Airline pilots willingly volunteer their energy, time, and personal finances to serve as FFDOs. Candidates who apply to the program, which accepts a limited number of new applicants each year, are reviewed and selected by the Federal Air Marshal Service. If selected, they undergo an intensive training program before becoming eligible to be deputized as law enforcement officers. They are also required to attend requalification and recurrent trainings while serving.

For more information about the program, please review ALPA’s FFDO white paper.