No Guns for Pilots. (Dateline Washington)

Article excerpt

The director of the Transportation Security Administration, John W. Magaw, has rejected pilots' requests to be allowed to keep firearms in the cockpits of planes. As a result, members of each house of Congress have introduced legislation requiring the Transportation Security Administration to allow pilots to carry guns.

Pilots have lobbied for guns in cockpits since the September 11 attacks, arguing that lethal weapons are their best defense against hijackers.

The airline industry, on the other hand, opposes the arming of pilots. Air transportation officials say that the pilot's job is to fly the plane, and that armed air marshals serve to protect passengers and crews against hijackers. With more secure cockpit doors and better passenger-screening systems (see "The Consumers' Observation Post," page 7), guns in cockpits are not only unnecessary but also dangerous, say opponents of arming pilots. Guns can distract pilots and accidentally discharge, they say. Flight attendants also object to the idea unless they, too, can carry some type of weapon, reports the Washington Post.

The House bill proposes giving guns to pilots who pass voluntary firearms training.

In other aviation news, an advisory committee of the Federal Aviation Administration drafted rules for long flights over water and polar regions. For these challenging routes, twin-engine planes are required to meet strict safety regulations and carry advanced safety equipment; three- and four-engine models that fly identical routes are subjected to fewer safety regulations.

Also, standby fields used for unscheduled landings (27 in the past seven years) often are not properly equipped for emergency situations. Therefore, universal standards of safety have been proposed for engines, onboard fire-fighting equipment, communications equipment, and emergency landing strips. The codes are awaiting the approval of the FAA and foreign regulatory agencies.

Since all types of aircraft that fly over uninhabited terrain would have to abide by the proposed rules, expensive refurbishment would be in order for older United States-registered aircraft and the long-range, wide-body planes operated by foreign airlines, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Schering-Plough, found in violation of federal good-manufacturing standards, will pay $500 million to the U.S. Treasury to settle the charges with the Food and Drug Administration.

During recent inspections of four Schering-Plough plants in New Jersey and Puerto Rico, the FDA discovered manufacturing, quality assurance, equipment, laboratory, packaging, and labeling problems. The deficiencies involved overall manufacturing practices and quality control, but the safety and effectiveness of individual drugs were not necessarily compromised, say FDA officials. However, the drug maker has agreed to stop making 73 products, and to pay an additional $175 million to the FDA should manufacturing quality issues fail to get resolved.

Alternatives exist for all of the suspended drugs, such as the asthma medication, Proventil, decongestants Chlor-Trimetona and Afrin, and the generic, theophylline. Schering-Plough's remaining products are now subject to stricter FDA oversight; all medications in homes and on store shelves can be considered safe, reports the Washington Post. The settlement requires formal approval by a federal judge.

The release of toxic chemicals into the environment declined by 700 million pounds to a total of 7. …