United Airlines Installing Stun Guns In Aircraft Cockpits

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - After losing two aircraft during September's terrorist attacks, United Airlines announced Thursday it will be the first major American airline to install advanced Taser weapons, also known as "stun guns," in every cockpit.

The weapons, which will be installed in electronically coded lock boxes on each United aircraft, will be available to pilots in case of a hijacking so the cockpit can be defended. In addition, all United flight attendants will undergo a special training program.

Airline officials said the stun guns add to other new security measures that have been implemented, including cockpit doors reinforced with an iron bar.

"United and its pilots believe Tasers are an important addition to enhanced cockpit security. Tasers will incapacitate an attacker without endangering the airplane," said Andrew Studdert, United's chief operating officer and executive vice president.

The weapons fire an electronic charge that instantly disables an attacker, allowing time for them to be restrained. A weapons expert told CNSNews.com that the stun guns are useful in situations where an attacker is in close proximity to the victim.

United also said Thursday it will introduce special training for their pilots on overall cockpit defense, including the use of Tasers.

The airline also announced the beginning of what they call the "first phase" of a flight attendant training program designed to enhance overall cabin security and to provide the attendants with knowledge on how to defend themselves as well as assist passengers in hijack situations.

More to follow.