TSA will resume defense training for airline employees

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WASHINGTON (AP) – As reports of disruptive passengers soar, federal officials say they will resume offering self-defense training to airline flight attendants and pilots.

The Transportation Security Administration said the classes, which were halted because of COVID-19, will resume in early July.

The official currently running the TSA, Darby LaJoye, said the four-hour training course uses federal air marshals who “impart their specialized expertise in defending against and deescalating an attack while in an aircraft environment.”

LaJoye said the TSA hopes airline crews never have to use the training but it is critical that they be prepared for any situations that might arise.

Airline employees are not required to take the training, but it is open and free to all active flight-crew members at U.S. airlines, TSA said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said this week that airlines have reported more than 3,000 incidents involving unruly passengers since Jan. 1. The agency did not track such reports in prior years, but a spokesman said it was safe to assume the 2021 numbers are the highest ever.

Since announcing a “zero-tolerance policy” against unruly passengers in January, the FAA has publicized potential fines – some topping $30,000 – against dozens of passengers and has investigated more than 400 cases. That is about three times the full-year average number of cases over the past decade, according to FAA figures.

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