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Flight Attendants Endorse Aircraft Defense Bill

Date: May 23, 2002

WASHINGTON— Patricia Friend, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, issued this statement today on the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism and Cabin Defense Act of 2002, introduced today in the U.S. Senate:

“Flight attendants and passengers in the cabins of the four hijacked aircraft were the first people to lose their lives on September 11. They were brutally killed as examples to show the consequences of challenging the terrorists that day.

“The people in the hijacked planes didn’t stand a chance against the terrorists because the flight attendants were not trained to handle an attack in the aircraft cabin. In any future hijacking attempt, the attackers will again start in the cabin, before they ever reach the cockpit.

“A bill that provides solely for pilots to have guns enables the pilots to defend the cockpit, but it leaves a gaping hole our aviation security system. Up to this point, nothing has been done to make sure flight attendants have the ability to protect ourselves and our passengers from attackers. The people in the aircraft cabin deserve to have the tools and training to fight back, too.

“The bill authored by Senator Smith provides a multi-layered defensive strategy for the entire aircraft. It requires comprehensive self-defense training, including classroom, situational and hands-on training; a discreet, hands-free, wireless method of communication with the flight deck; and it will require the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a study of the effectiveness of arming and training flight attendants with non-lethal weapons.

“The bill also creates a specific division within the TSA to handle self-defense training. The TSA’s Self-Defense Division will develop and administer the crewmember self-defense training requirements to ensure that airlines live up to their responsibility to prioritize security over convenience when it comes to training.

“We thank Senator Smith for authoring the bill that will provide flight attendants with the training and tools we need to protect ourselves, our passengers and to possibly stop a hijacker before he reaches the cockpit.”

More than 50,000 flight attendants at 26 airlines join together to form AFA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. Visit us at www.afanet.org.

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