KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) –Kansas City pilot Will Royster remains locked in a cell in Hong Kong Tuesday night. He was arrested nine days ago after his United Airlines flight landed in Hong Kong. Police in Hong Kong tell KCTV5 News he's accused of carrying a gun and some bullets inside his luggage.
Dan Stratman is a seasoned pilot, turned author of Aviation Thrillers. He flew airlines domestically and internationally for both Northwest and Delta often alongside pilots packing heat.
“If I was to guess, I’d say maybe 25% of the pilots are armed?” Stratman guessed.
After September 11, the federal government started training pilots to be a last line of defense should someone breach a cockpit.
It’s called the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program and includes extensive firearms training and background checks.
“I did not become an FFDO myself, but I flew with many pilots who did and it was a comfort to know that they were there,” Stratman said.
Stratman believes Will Royster must be an FFDO himself since he had a gun on a flight to Hong Kong.
“It’s not possible to get a gun through security checkpoints without being noticed, with all the high-tech equipment they use nowadays, I don’t see how it could happen. Even for a pilot,” Stratman said.
The federal statute that governs the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program says the TSA should have policies for pilots carrying firearms on international flights.
Those policies must go along with the regulations set by the International Civil Aviation Organization. China’s rules aren’t posted online.
Stratman says flying armed even domestically can be tricky.
“It can be a problem because pilots are required to keep the gun safe at all times. So, if they end up in a different destination from a diversion or something like that happens, then it’s up to them to have to figure out how to keep the gun safe and on their person basically,” Stratman said.
The Magistrate Court in Hong Kong is where this case is being heard. KCTV5 News has been told that members of Royster's family are in Hong Kong trying to arrange his release on bond.
Authorities in Hong Kong tell us Royster appeared in court on December 10, but they did not say when his next court appearance would be.