Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dumb Pilot Error, or Dumb TSA Rules?

Maybe both.

So the news for the last couple of days has been full of the pilot who had a brain malfunction and fired a round of .40 Smith and Wesson through his Airbus the other day. That is a Bad Thing. Apparently the FDO's are either issued or required to buy Heckler & Koch USP pistols. These are not unreliable firearms as long as the right ammunition is used, and the wrong ammo is still not going to make the things go off by themselves. They're also not going to fire because someone bumps one or drops it on the floor or, for that matter, hits it with a hammer. If you have an ND, then you didn't mean to pull the trigger, but nevertheless you did and have no one else to blame.

But if Paul Huebl at Crimefiles is right, it's possible that the pilot didn't choose to fiddle with his pistol's trigger in the cockpit, but was required to do so by the TSA. Sound too stupid to be true? Do I need to remind you that this is the TSA we're dealing with here?
Go read it and see what you think. The miracle under those conditions is that it took this long to have Very Bad Things happen.


BobG said...

The TSA is the biggest waste of money, time, and manpower next to the UN.
And if anyone thinks the TSA is making them safer, I have a bridge to sell them. Cash only and small bills, please.
Just my opinion.

Mithras61 said...

I believe Paul Huebl is right, that the configuration of padlock & holster is very much as illustrated. I'm not a pilot, FFDO or otherwise, but I do know some pilots and have been told that required configuration is very much like the illustration he has up at the link you have. I don't know aout yours, but I can see how my 1911A1 could easily fire while sliding the hasp through that holster/trigger alignment. As I say, I don't KNOW he's right, but I do believe it to be a very real possibility.

Don said...

I wouldn't think they'd try it with most 1911 variants, because there's no way to get the lock behind the trigger, which I assume is the reasoning here. But if your USP were in single-action, the trigger would be so far back that it might be the same thing. I sold my USP .45 years ago because I couldn't develop the Teutonic Monkey Grip, or I'd experiment. Certainly I don't think I could put a padlock the size of that one behind a Glock trigger after a round had been chambered.

That holster and lock look like they're meant to be used on unloaded guns only. And even if Huebl is right about the rule, that doesn't mean the pilot was locking his gun when he fired it--he could theoretically have had a Barney Fife quickdraw moment, as Paul called it. But I think the odds would be against that once we know that he's required to do something dangerous with the gun twice per flight.

Personally, if they required me to do that, I think I'd load the gun when I unlocked it and unload it before locking it.

Anonymous said...

that's right, it was the pistol/holster configuration that caused the gun to go off. do the words stupid. fucking. cunt. mean anything to you?

Don said...

Maybe this particular incident had something to do with the requirement of sticking a metal bar into the trigger guard of a loaded pistol, or maybe it didn't.

We can't know that with the information released publicly.

What we can and do know is that it's stupid to put anything into the trigger guard of a loaded gun. You do understand the problem there, right?

Therefore it's stupid to make a rule requiring people to do such a stupid thing. Someone is bound to get hurt. Even if this particular incident wasn't caused by such a policy, it's a good bet that there WILL be an AD because of it if it's not changed, and the next time, there might be a .40 caliber hole in something they can't fix with a welder and some pop rivets.

Anonymous said...