A SAC was known as a Special Agent in Charge as were the Assistant and Deputy SACs and a Supervisory Federal Air Marshal was known as an Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge or ATSAC.
The rank change was introduced in 2011 to reduce a “us versus them” perception between supervisory and non-supervisory air marshals.
Federal Air Marshals go through an intense, two-phase training program.
The first phase of the program is a seven-week basic law enforcement course.
Mc Laughlin turned the Federal Air Marshal Program into an all-voluntary program.
The voluntary nature of the program and efforts by Mc Laughlin and Steele turned the small force of Federal Air Marshals into an extremely capable one.
TSA required Federal Air Marshals to wear raid jackets or shirts identifying them as air marshals, which potentially compromised their anonymity.
In response to this concern, TSA changed the policy; Federal Air Marshals now attend VIPR exercises in civilian clothes or jackets that simply identify them as DHS officials.
As early as 1963, after an article in FAA Horizons Magazine, the FAA Peace Officers were referred to as Sky Marshals internally within the FAA, although the term would not be used by the media for nearly a decade. In October 1969, due to the increasing violence of hijacked aircraft in the Middle East, the U. Marshals Service started a Sky Marshal Division out of the Miami Field Office. For the next several years after customs security officer disbandment, the FAA air marshals rarely flew missions. Due to resistance of several countries e.g., the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany to having individuals carrying firearms entering their countries, the coverage of international flights was initially spotty. Many of them transferred to the FAA's Civil Aviation Security Division to serve as aviation security inspectors and also in the volunteer FAM program directed by the FAA's Civil Aviation Security Division (later renamed the Office of Civil Aviation Security).
Many years after their initial inception, personnel were given firearms and some close quarters combat training at the FBI Academy located on the U. The program was run by John Brophy and staffed with a handful of deputies. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)) and the FAA and was led by General Benjamin O. On September 11, 1970, in response to increasing acts of air piracy by Islamic radicals, President Richard Nixon ordered the immediate deployment of armed federal agents on United States commercial aircraft. Subsequently, the United States Customs Service formed the Division of Air Security, and established the position of Customs Security Officer (CSO). flagged commercial aircraft, flying on both domestic and international routes in an undercover capacity in teams of two and three. Following the mandatory passenger screening enacted by the FAA at U. airports beginning in 1973, the customs security officer force was disbanded and its personnel were absorbed by the U. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan requested the expansion of the program and Congress enacted the International Security and Development Cooperation Act, which expanded the statutes that supported the Federal Air Marshal Service. After the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985 and the enactment of the International Security and Development Cooperation Act, the number of FAMs was increased and their focus became international U. Resistance to the entrance of armed personnel to their countries was overcome through negotiations and agreements about the terms and handling of weapons when they were brought in country. This program later became non-voluntary, required of all FAA Inspectors, breeding other problems within the FAA's Office of Civil Aviation Security.
As of August 2013, this number is estimated to be approximately 4,000.
Currently, these FAMs serve as the primary law enforcement entity within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
From 1992 to just after the attacks on 9/11, the air marshals had one of the toughest firearms qualification standards in the world.