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Pilots' union wants pilots armed

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The world's oldest and largest pilots' union is seeking congressional approval to carry guns into cockpits and have arrest authority.

Air Line Pilots Association officials say pilots have no choice but to arm themselves to maintain security in the sky, as a result of the September 11 hijacking attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The union has already sought an increase in federal air marshals.

Sen. John McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, which considers airline security issues, says it is still too early to say how Congress will respond to the proposal.

"We've got to hear from the Justice Department, call in the experts, before we take such a step," he said. "But I would be guided by the experts' view."

The FBI is also considering the idea.

Under the proposal, pilots would receive extensive classroom and firearms training to become actual law enforcement officials. The Air Line Pilots Association says leaving the security situation to federal air marshals would not be enough, since there are not enough of them to be on every flight.

ALPA says the training would be done on a strictly voluntary basis.

The union represents more than 66,000 pilots at 47 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

• Frank Sesno: Fear in flying
September 23, 2001
• Attacks force fresh look at airplane security
September 20, 2001
• Experts: Air security still lax
September 19, 2001
• Pilots' rules changing for hijackings
September 17, 2001

• ALPA - Pilots United with America
• Coalition of Airline Pilots Association

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