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House Approves Funding For The Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) Program
By Shane Nolan

June 11, 2012 - On Wednesday the House unanimously agreed to the amendment offered by U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN) to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2013, which would increase funding for the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program. Importantly, the amendment is fully offset and will not cost taxpayers any additional money. 

The Cravaack amendment increases current FFDO funding by $10 million to $35.5 million, while reducing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Screeners Payroll, Benefits, and Compensation account by $5 million and the Screening Maintenance Account by $5 million.

“9/11 woke us up to the reality that we live in a dangerous world. With varied and ever-emerging threats, every effort should be made to make air travel as safe as possible.  As a former FFDO, I can personally attest the sacrifices and expenses these pilots voluntarily undergo for the privilege to participate in the program and the honor to defend our country from terrorist attack,” said Rep. Cravaack.  “The FFDO program is the most cost effective means to making air travel safe for Americans.”  

Earlier this year, the FFDO fund was going to be cut from $25.5 million to $12.5 million, effectively shutting it down. At this level of funding, the FFDO program would be unable to re-certify all of the pilots in the program, maintain its current management structure, and train any additional officers. 

According to estimates by the Air Line Pilots Association, FFDO’s only cost $15 per flight segment. Currently, FFDO’s defend over 100,000 flight segments per month and 1.5 million flight segments per year. Thousands of FFDO’s have been certified through the program, despite a budget that hasn’t grown since the program’s inception. 

Representative Cravaack serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where he is Vice Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee the Homeland Security Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.



The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks tragically demonstrated the need for a multi-layered approach to securing commercial airliners and in particular the cockpit from terrorist and criminal assault. In addition to improved security at airport checkpoints, the use of federal air marshals, and the hardening of cockpit doors, the Transportation Security Administration developed the Federal Flight Deck Officer program as an additional layer of security. In December 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law legislation that expanded program eligibility to include cargo pilots and certain other flight crewmembers.

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