The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the USA is restarting its Crew Member Self-Defense (CMSD) training in early July. The programme was previously paused due to Covid-19 restrictions, but with unruly passenger incidents on the rise, the TSA has decided it is appropriate to bolster crew training.
In the year-to-date as of 20 June, the FAA has received 3,082 unruly passenger reports. 487 investigations have been instigated so far in 2021, compared with 183 in 2020. 2020 saw a big drop in passenger numbers due to the pandemic, but a disproportionate number of incidents among those passengers. In 2019 the FAA instigated 146 incidents, 159 in 2018, and 91 in 2017.
The main role of flight crew members is to keep passengers safe while onboard an aircraft. Assaulting or threatening a member of the flight crew is a federal crime in the USA, and perpetrators may face civil penalties, criminal fines, or imprisonment..
“Through this training programme, TSA’s Federal Air Marshals are able to impart their specialised expertise in defending against and deescalating an attack while in an aircraft environment,” said Darby LaJoye, senior official performing the duties of the TSA Administrator. “While it is our hope that flight crew members never have need for these tactics, it is critical to everyone’s safety that they be well-prepared to handle situations as they arise.”
Under the TSA CMSD Training Program, certified instructors teach flight crew members defensive measures and techniques for responding against an attacker in a commercial passenger or cargo aircraft. During the training, flight crew members learn to identify and deter potential threats, and if needed, apply the self-defence techniques against attackers. The voluntary four-hour training programme is offered to flight crew members free of charge and is held at 24 locations around the USA. All active flight crew members for domestic carriers are eligible to register for the training.