Whether or not a pilot carries a gun while working depends entirely on who they fly for.
The rules concerning whether or not military pilots can carry guns while on active duty also vary according to which branch of the service they fly for.
Army and Air Force pilots both carry firearms (usually a standard 9MM Beretta pistol) in case they’re shot down during a mission and are forced to defend themselves while waiting to be retrieved.
The fluid state of world affairs and the constantly evolving nature of geo-politics has also caused commercial airlines to reevaluate their collective position and individual policies regarding whether or not their pilots are issued guns and can carry them while flying.
What was once was unthinkable, even during the nineteen sixties and seventies when it seemed as though a commercial flight was being hijacked by terrorists or criminals on a weekly basis, has now become an incredibly real possibility and the last people who will ever know whether or not a commercial airline pilot is carrying a gun, are the passengers on board the aircraft.
That said, the rules governing whether or not a private pilot or a pilot flying for a private company can carry a gun are completely different.
As long as a private pilot is legally permitted to carry a gun, and can also legally carry that gun in any state, territory, or country that they’re flying to, then they can, and often do carry guns.
In a lot of cases, when private pilots are flying wealthy clients around the world, they are also serving as part of a CPS (Close Protection Security) team, and as such will be expected to carry a gun in case they need to protect their client from any, and all, possible threats.
And pilots who fly for cargo firms that are chartered to carry high-value goods often insist on their pilots being armed in order to ensure the safety of their aircraft and cargo.
While cases of air piracy and hijacking are extremely rare, they have happened and as such, some firms train their pilots in the use of and make them carry, guns as a preventative measure to guard against the possibility of it happening.
While the Navy won’t officially confirm whether or not their serving personal do or don’t carry guns while flying missions, several ex-Naval aviators have confirmed that while they were flying fighter jets for the Navy, they did carry guns while flying missions over enemy territory or in potentially dangerous situations.
However, they didn’t and don’t carry guns in a traditional holster, or as a sidearm.
The weapons are actually part of their survival kit which they have to depend on if they’re forced to eject over, or are forced to land in any area that might be hostile.
The guns they carry, as part of their survival equipment, are usually lightweight 9MM pistols that have purposely chosen to reduce the weight of the survival kit that a Navy pilot will need to carry if they do eject or crash.
Navy helicopter crews also carry guns while they’re flying retrieval and rescue missions for the same reasons that fighter pilots do.
If they’re shot down or forced to land in enemy territory, then they need a way to defend themselves against hostile combatants and forces, and the guns carried onboard their aircraft provide the extra security that they might need to depend on if they’re confronted by an emergency situation.
Do Airline Pilots Carry Guns?
The good news is that airline pilots do carry guns, and the even better news is that they’re fully trained to use them should they need to.
At least one of the pilots on any commercial flight is an FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer) who as well as being a serving Air Marshal, has also been deputized by the Department of Homeland Security and can legally act on their behalf in any situation that is deemed to be a threat to any aircraft, flight crew or passengers.
Following the events of September 11th, 2001 a change of flight deck policy was deemed necessary by both the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and the Department of Homeland Security to prevent a similar attack from ever happening again.
Federal Flight Deck Officers are a first response measure that is designed to effectively nullify the potential and possible threat that terrorism and hijacking poses.
Fully trained in the use of guns in the confined space of aircraft, FFDO’s will react if, and when, any threat makes itself known and until it does, for all intents and purposes, as far as the passengers who are onboard an aircraft know, the serving, and fully armed, Air Marshall is just another pilot flying them to wherever it is that they’re going.