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Airline Crews Say Required Security Training Boring, Unhelpful

April 21, 1986

DALLAS (AP) _ Pilots and flight attendants say they find mandatory anti-terrorist training so boring and unhelpful that some talk or read rather than pay attention, and one called the course ″an insult,″ a newspaper reports.

The Dallas Morning News quoted one unidentified pilot for a major airline as saying the instructor for a recent course entered the room only to change videotapes.

″People were talking, they were doing other things ... including reading the paper,″ said the captain. ″I’d leave for 20 minutes at a time and take care of business.″

The eight-hour training for crews of international flights is required by the Federal Aviation Administration this month for the first time to protect U.S. civil aviation against international terrorism. It was ordered last July after the June 14 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Athens. Crew members on domestic flights must receive the training by Sept. 1.

The newspaper Saturday said it interviewed a number of pilots and flight attendants who said they doubt the course prepared them to handle such a crisis.

″It’s just kind of an insult when you’ve been flying for 28 years and somebody says, ‘If you see someone with a gun coming down the ramp, don’t let them on the plane.’ ... You say, ’My gosh, what am I doing, sitting here and getting this kind of nonsense,‴ said Braniff pilot Bill Burke.

Shortly after Braniff started its training in November, one pilot ″was so bored he laid down on the floor and slept,″ said Fred Stauffer, a captain who serves as director of training for Braniff. He said he met with the pilot and sent him through the course again.

″We wouldn’t put up with any foolishness because it’s too serious to take lightly,″ Stauffer said.

The Air Transport Association, which put together the FAA-approved security package and made it available to airlines for about $450, is recommending the requirement be withdrawn and revised, the News said.

″We’ve had absolutely no specifications or instructions or input″ from the FAA, said Tom Tripp, association spokesman. ″The truth of the matter is we still don’t understand what is deficient in current flight crew member training.″

FAA spokesman Fred Farrar said the quality of the programs is very high, and said the FAA has no reason to believe training is ineffective.

Jim Federer, training coordinator for Southwest Airlines, said some of the good in the security training package was ″probably lost because there was so much garbage″ in the information.

He said Southwest and other carriers use the association package because the costs of developing a new program and then seeking FAA approval make alternatives impractical.

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