NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Two Air Marshals Per Flight Being Considered

October 4, 2001

In little-noticed remarks before a Senate committee last week, the Federal Aviation Administration's acting deputy administrator, Monte Belger, disclosed that the agency expects to assign not one but two air marshals aboard every commercial jetliner.

Would two marshals be better than one? Perhaps, but many thousands would need to be hired and cost estimates have not yet been advanced.

  • Belger estimates that it would take at least 14,000 new hires to cover most flights by U.S. carriers -- a cadre that might rival the Federal Bureau of Investigation's entire roster of agents.
  • Anti-hijacking programs in the early 1970s involved the random assignment of no more than 1,400 marshals -- and their numbers have recently declined into the dozens rather than hundreds.
  • The FAA has already received more than 30,000 applications for permanent marshal positions.
  • Experts say that morale has been a particular problem, and in order to keep marshals motivated assignments have been shifted -- from flying in the cabin one day to inspecting cargo the next.

Last year, the FAA advertised for an unspecified number of "civil aviation security specialists," as they are known, to be based in Europe. The jobs pay as much as $72,586 a year, plus government-furnished housing and educational allowances of more than $22,000.

Source: Andy Pasztor and Joseph T. Hallinan, "FAA's Plans for Two Marshals Per Jet Raise Questions About Budget, Logistics," Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2001.

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