updated 10/9/2009 2:53:13 PM ET 2009-10-09T18:53:13

A pilot who was fired after his gun discharged in the cockpit is back at work after an arbitrator ordered him reinstated.

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US Airways said Friday that Jim Langenhahn resumed training on Monday after an 18-month disciplinary suspension.

The airline said as part of the federal arbitrator's decision to reinstate Langenhahn, he will be barred from carrying a gun in the cockpit. After the 2001 terror attacks in which hijackers armed with knives seized four jetliners, pilots lobbied for the right to carry guns in the cockpit.

A 2002 federal law allowed pilots to carry handguns on board if they took part in a program run by the Transportation Security Administration, which includes a week of weapons training.

Langenhahn's gun fired shortly before landing on a March 2008 flight from Denver to Charlotte, North Carolina. Langenhahn, a former Air Force pilot, said he was putting his .40-caliber pistol away when it discharged.

The bullet ripped through the cockpit wall and fuselage. None of the passengers or crew members were hurt.

After US Airways fired him, Langenhahn took the case to arbitration, backed by his union, the US Airways Pilots Association.

Through the union, Langenhahn declined to comment. In a letter to the union president, he thanked the union members and attorney who lobbied for his reinstatement and helped him financially. He called it a "long and painful ordeal."

"We are happy to have him back," said union spokesman James Ray. "The company overreacted. Capt. Langenhahn has had a distinguished and untarnished record in his time at US Airways."

Langenhahn's case was strengthened when the Department of Homeland Security faulted the design of holsters used by pilots who carry their weapons on board planes. The department's inspector general said the design increased the chance of accidental discharge when pilots inserted their guns in the holsters.

The inspector general recommended that the TSA halt use of the locking holster and consider other methods for armed pilots to stow their weapons. The holsters have been in use since 2006.

TSA spokesman Nelson Minerly defended the holster design, saying they have been used "millions of times by thousands of (pilots) without incident."

"The system has been very reliable," he said.

Langenhahn began pilot training Monday at US Airlines' flight training center in Charlotte, the carrier said in a brief statement. The reinstatement does not include back pay.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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