Pilot Back to Work After Handgun Accidentally Fired During Flight

A US Airways pilot who was grounded by the airline after his handgun accidentally discharged on a flight is now allowed back in the cockpit, according to an October 9th Associated Press report. After serving an 18-month disciplinary suspension, the AP reports pilot Jim Langenhahn began flight training last Monday at a US Airways facility in Charlotte. Captain Langenhahn, a former Air Force pilot, will get his wings back from the airline under the provision that he will be prohibited from packing firearms aboard a plane in the future, the AP reports.

Langenhahn was allegedly stowing his .40-caliber pistol on a March 2008 flight from Denver to Charlotte when it fired shortly before the plane landed, the AP reports. No passengers or crew members were hurt when the bullet pierced through the plane's fuselage and cockpit wall. After the incident, the AP reports Langenhahn took the case to arbitration with the support of his union, the US Airways Pilots Association. According to the report, Langenhahn's case was enhanced by evidence from the Department of Homeland Security, who criticized the faulty locking holster design currently used by pilots strapped with firearms. The department's inspector general claims the holster design increases the likeliness of an accidental discharge and has recommended the Transportation Security Administration discontinue its use, the AP reports.

Union spokesman James ray told the Associated press, "The company overreacted. Captain Langenhahn has had a distinguished and untarnished record in his time at US Airways." Langenhahn is also quoted by the AP in a personal letter to the union, calling the ordeal "long and painful."

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, commercial airline pilots lobbied to carry handguns aboard planes and a federal law was passed in 2002. According to the AP, pilots opting to bare arms in cockpit must participate a week-long weapons training program run by the TSA.

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