Airline Security: Stuck on the Runway?

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Airline Security: Stuck on the Runway?
Pilots and officials say the skies are as dangerous as ever. Can government do the job? BY SALLY B. DONNELLY



STEPHEN J. CARRERA/AP
Passengers at LAX waiting to be re-screened


Sunday, Apr. 21, 2002
Phil Messina stood in the aisle of a makeshift airplane cabin set up in a hotel conference room and pulled items from a cardboard box. "I can kill you with a magazine, a soda can, a compact disk, a wine bottle, and a fork," he told an audience of airline pilots. Then Messina, a stocky former cop with a Fu Manchu mustache, began thrusting a 6-in. gold object into the air. "But this is the best!" he boasted. "I bought it yesterday at John F. Kennedy Airport." In his hand was a dagger-sized Statue of Liberty with a knife-sharp torch and crown.

Messina?s demonstration was one of dozens at a security training session held last week in San Diego by the Airline Pilots Association, which represents 60,000 commercial aviators. TIME joined 100 pilots, airline officials and law enforcement agents as lecturers delivered the grim news: Flying is far less secure than the pilots hoped, Congress promised or the traveling public believes. Deadly weapons get onto planes every day. Baggage goes unchecked. "There are fundamental flaws in the government?s approach to airline security," says former Northwest Airlines pilot Stephen Luckey, who heads ALPA?s Security Committee. "They?re worrying about nail clippers, and failing to treat the more significant threats."

More bad news reached the pilots from Washington, where last week Kenneth Mead, the Department of Transportation?s Inspector General, delivered a scathing report to Congress on the Transportation Security Administration the new agency tasked with protecting commercial aviation. Mead said the TSA would not acquire enough explosive detection machines to screen every bag by Dec. 31, as Congress has mandated. (A TSA spokesman says the agency intends to meet the deadline.) Mead predicted that because of its free-spending ways, the TSA would likely run out of money by next month.

He questioned why an agency on a tight budget would plan to rent 2,700 sq.-ft. offices (at an average of $85 per sq. ft.) for each of its 81 top airport security directors. The TSA says it expects Congress to approve a $4.4 billion supplemental budget request, and that it hasn?t decided on offices. Mead?s testimony only increased the pilots? sense of vulnerability. "Three thousand people died on Sept. 11 because eight pilots were killed," says Luckey. "Little has been done since then to provide effective protection."

Pilots and government officials say a program to put thousands of Federal Air Marshals on flights has been hobbled by insufficient training and poor-quality agents on loan from other agencies. During the Salt Lake City Olympics, for example, two temporary marshals boarded a high-risk flight in the western U.S. According to an airline security official, one of them grabbed a blanket, put his seat back and fell into a deep sleep with his weapon unprotected in a bag at his feet. His partner managed to stay awake, but left his seat to use the bathroom without rousing his colleague or securing his own gun. A government source says there has never been a case of a permanent Air Marshal falling asleep on duty.

As the stories sank in, cocky airline pilots many of whom have combat experience seemed humbled by the challenge of dealing with terrorism. The class laughed when one presenter showed a cartoon of Richard Reid, the scraggly "shoe-bomber" who tried and failed to blow up an American Airlines flight from Europe last December. But the lecturer scolded them. "Reid was not a bumbling idiot. In fact, the sophistication of his operation should make you shiver."

Since 9/11, flight crews have often had to go through screening alongside passengers, and are even pulled aside for special searches. The pilots call it "gate-rape"; many claim that screeners target them because doing so is an easy way for them to meet their quota of random searches and because screeners know crews will be punished by their airlines if they complain.

Aware that the threat hasn't passed, pilots are pushing for the right to carry guns in the cockpit. On May 2, a House subcommittee will hold hearings on the question. ALPA and a grassroots organization called the Airline Pilots? Security Alliance have designed a program to screen and train pilots to use weapons aboard aircraft. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has come out against arming pilots; other opponents cite such concerns as pilot distraction, accidental discharge and theft. But the pilots say that if the government can?t keep their aircraft safe and secure, they?ll have to do it themselves.
 
call me crazy, but for some reason i just dont trust the airlines anymore. things dont seem to be getting any better either.
 
Originally posted by Shinzu

call me crazy, but for some reason i just dont trust the airlines anymore. things dont seem to be getting any better either.

You're crazy! ;)

I can somewhat understand how 4 guys before Sept 11 could
take over a plane with a box cutter. Usually a hijacking meant
you got a ride to beirut, lybia, cuba, etc and back home. Not
many have typically been murdered in the past. I don't think
many passengers now, and forever will idly sit by when someone
with a one inch blade threatens you, but what would YOU do?
I've only had a few months of knife training...and even
disregarding that, it'd be a cold day in hell before someone
pushes me around with a box cutter!

Another question .... do you think any of the terrorists had any
kind of attack training?
 
thanx kirk! LOL

i think i would defintely try to save myself and the others before i let someone else take our lives.

as far as training goes. there was an article in black belt magazine that interviewed an instructor that unknowingly trained one of the terrorists. i dont know how many of them had training but they were skilled in hand to hand combat.
 
Well, I forone am all for allowing pilots to be armed, provided they are properly trained in their use and in some for of hand to hand. The last thing we need is to have the pilots being disarmed and having their own guns used to take over he plane.

The fact ofthe matter is however, that deadly weapons will ALWAYS be available to take on planes. I can kill you by jabbing a pen or pencil in your throat, but I don't see them outlawing writing instruments on planes...

I know a guy who could have his belt off and choke you out with it before you really knew what was happening.

I agree that we need to limit weapons in the hands of passengers, but you are never going to get rid of them entirely.

Maybe it's time to require all flight crew to undergo an intensive close-quarters self defense class, with periodic refreshers required?

Just an idea...
 
We do not live in a safe world, we never have. People are just now coming to this realisation. There is only one way to make passanger planes safe, don't use them. Dismantle every plane and melt down the peaices and then throw the molten blobs into the ocean. Then and only then will passanger planes be safe.



Despair Bear
 
I mean even with hand to hand combat. Being frightened of a man with a box cutter? I would of probably said guys, ok look they have box cutters... but we have plastic trays and luggage.

I would of least thrown sh** at the terrorits so someone could knock them out. I would of done anything to try and save the plane.

Also I think they should do something about the pilot doors? If its that easy for a terrorists to get into the pilot pits maybe they shoudl consider making it maybe like a 1 inch steel door that locks from the inside.

This might prevent people from getting in and when they do get it by some means I do not know the pilot could open fire? Also maybe the pilots shouldn't use live rounds? Maybe they could use the new rubber bullets and such.
 
Originally posted by Carbon
I mean even with hand to hand combat. Being frightened of a man with a box cutter? I would of probably said guys, ok look they have box cutters... but we have plastic trays and luggage.
I would of least thrown sh** at the terrorits so someone could knock them out. I would of done anything to try and save the plane.

Ask Renegade from the Modern Arnis section what a box cutter can do to a person. Ask him how hard they are to disarm.

The other issue is that usually people were told that that should not resist as they would go to some place and sit until they had negotiated their freedom. It was a nasty change in events. Today people would not do the same.

One of my fraternity brothers was Jeremy Glick. Judoka who fought back and as a result the plane crashed and saved untold lives by giving their own. But you have the right idea, start taking action. Stop being sheep. I agree.

Originally posted by Carbon
Also I think they should do something about the pilot doors? If its that easy for a terrorists to get into the pilot pits maybe they shoudl consider making it maybe like a 1 inch steel door that locks from the inside. This might prevent people from getting in and when they do get it by some means I do not know the pilot could open fire? Also maybe the pilots shouldn't use live rounds? Maybe they could use the new rubber bullets and such.

Some great ideas here and again I agree with some of your ideas. Sometimes when your mouth isn't getting in the way, your brain works great.
:shrug:
 
The biggest issue here is cost. Why would the airlines want to spent the hundreds of thousands of dollars to reinforce the cockpit door? (saw thingy on tv about that steel door system). They use a similar system in Isreal (sp), that is supposed to be real secure.

These individuals who hijacked the planes did everything like we expected, except rather than go to Havana, they crashed into things. Who knows what happened on the other planes. All we know is on the PA one, they fought back, and prosibly saved congress or the White House from being hit.

Razors, box cutter type. They are -very- fragile...BUT...they also cut quick, and deep. I've got a few nasty scars from my days as a stock boy. I've also heard that theres a street-art based around box cutters, screwdrivers and other small-bladed things. Put that in the hands of someone with a little skill (even the 6 week crash course would do), and no fear of dying.... I dunno about you, but I don't want to face that guy.


Solution to the problem is very simple.

Enforce the rules we have now. We don't need to read everyones emails to detect the bomb at the airport. Make the airport security do what its supposed to do. Right now, its so much show, but no real power. Guards with weapons relaxed, spot checks, the wrong equipment, no training, temps. Hell, its a wonder we haven't got more problems than what we had so far.

Armor the cockpit, and make it so that there is no reason to open the door to see whats going on. Add in mikes, cameras, speakers, etc. Better yet, make it so that the cockpit has its own enterance, and lav, with NO way in from the passenger area. Add in a rear control room that is also only accessible from outside. If they cant get in, then, they cant take control.

Will that cost some money? Yup, it sure will. But, I don't think it would be more than a billon or 2 to retrofit every plane to meet these specs. For the cost of a couple of fighters, we can make our airlines the most secure in the world.

:asian:
 
Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz


. . .

Enforce the rules we have now. We don't need to read everyones emails to detect the bomb at the airport. Make the airport security do what its supposed to do. Right now, its so much show, but no real power. Guards with weapons relaxed, spot checks, the wrong equipment, no training, temps. Hell, its a wonder we haven't got more problems than what we had so far.

. . .

Hi All,

If, everyone would only receive the inspections
I have recevied before 9/11/01. Even if I travel
for work with others, no one will go through
security with me. I am always pulled off to the
side for the extra special search. I was a test
passenger for the (then New) LAX Gas
Chromatograph. I have always been stopped and
had a wand for metal go over me, even if the metal
detector doorway does not go off.

If Only, ..., .

I had one young female security guard apologize
for choosing me out of the line. I told her I fit
the profile, and her supervisor smiled and said
yes I did. Now one might asked what is the
profile.:(

Single Male, no jewelry, single bag, single
carry-on. Travelling alone. I am also 6'3" and
230+ lbs. Dark Hair, facial hair, olive skin,
unknown race or ethinic background.:)

So, yes, if Only they would enforce what I know
they already put me through. Now one might also
ask how many times this happens to me? 100% of
the time I get the 'extra' security check. If
only they would implement it for everyone.

OK time to leave my :soapbox:

Night all

Rich
 
Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz

[
no fear of dying.... I dunno about you, but I don't want to face that guy.


..........................................................
Kaith, You said in a nutshell right up there..."No fear of dying"

It has been stated many times that a motivated killer can kill anyone if he/she doesn't give a damn about living, and terrorists soldiers meet that criteria.

Back when 9/11 was really fresh in everyones' mind there was lots of speculation on training flight crews and such.

I stated then, and I haven't changed my mind that the best solution IMO is Air Martials. Armed and trained in CQB similar to FBI HRT teams . Israile Air Lines usually have 4-6 on each plane that flies and they seem to have a very good record. Let the pilots and flight crew do their jobs and leave the butt kicking to the professionals
:soapbox:

What are your ideas on that?


GEne Gabel
 
I think it would be just as easy to train a pilot in knife and gun defense as it would be to have an air marshal go on there and take time out to sit on the plane.

Also if I was a terrorist it would be pretty ovbious who the air marshall was(maybe) and then that would be the first person I target to take out with my box cutter.

I still think that having the pilot door seal'd off or something along these lines would be a good idea.

Since its going to be hard to get knives on, when I went to the airport I had a Kubotan on my keychain, and they said that I had to go check it(which took me 3 hours).

I told them its just a alluminum keychain there isn't anything inside I'm not going to take the plane over, but they insisted that I had to take it and check it since its a danger to other passengers.

This type of thing could get annoying and yes I bet the guns that the guys carry at the airport are unloaded. I don't really see what your going to do with it? Open fire into a crowd of people when a terrorist runs by.
 
Originally posted by Carbon

I think it would be just as easy to train a pilot in knife and gun defense as it would be to have an air marshal go on there and take time out to sit on the plane.

Also if I was a terrorist it would be pretty ovbious who the air marshall was(maybe) and then that would be the first person I target to take out with my box cutter.

I still think that having the pilot door seal'd off or something along these lines would be a good idea.

.....................................................................................
Carbon, I still think the pilots job is to fly the plane not defend it.

I was going for a few marshalls on each flight. If terrs know there are marshalls on the flight I would hope they would have second thoughts?
LIKE...
Not carrying out their mission and looking for an easier target. Like all those backpack nukes they bought from the Soviets and taking out a nuke power plant or big dam.. It is just freakey.

I don't want to see this country turned into another Israel with every tom, dick and mamoud wanting to make the big score on US lives.

My 2Yen
Respect
Gene Gabel


:asian:
 
Howabout we build planes nothing but a steel wall between the cabin and the cockpit? Maybe have the pilots get in on a seperate entrance? That way a hijacker couldn't do anything. Sure, they could threaten to kill passengers, but they wouldn't be able to do anything, and when they land, they'd have a large opposition.
 
Originally posted by deadhand31

Howabout we build planes nothing but a steel wall between the cabin and the cockpit? Maybe have the pilots get in on a seperate entrance? That way a hijacker couldn't do anything. Sure, they could threaten to kill passengers, but they wouldn't be able to do anything, and when they land, they'd have a large opposition.

Yep, using Kaith's idea of building a lav in there, and them already
having their food and drinks in there already. I can't see a need
to be able to talk to the pilots. They can talk to us, but what
reason is there to talk to them? So add one way communications
from pilot to passengers, seperate door to the cockpit. They can
do what they will to passengers, it wouldn't do any good. The
pilots would have no idea what's going on back there. If
everyone flying knew this, then they'd be more prone to defend
themselves.
 
I don't see why the airlines wouldn't of implimented this earlier.

Let me tell you if I could have 10 minutes with Osama Bin Laden I would take it, I know he probably cannot fight.

But would I want 10 seconds with his 280 lb. arabian friend who trains all day? Hell no. I could see how it would be hard to try and take an airplane from the psycho terrorists.
 
The current (Apr. 2003) issue of Black Belt has an article by a former federal air marshall discussing some aspects of his CQC training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
 
Better yet, make it so that the cockpit has its own enterance, and lav, with NO way in from the passenger area.

You hit the nail on the head. I was going to suggest that until I saw you beat me to it.
 
Americans have been programed to become VICTIMS.

It starts from early childhood, with the family. You are taught that it is wrong to fight. Even for what is rightfully yours. Your toy is taken by another child. Your told to "share", don't fight over it. The programming starts!

You now become old enough to understand religion. Again, the influence of fighting is wrong. A sin, turn the other cheek, love thine enemy. Again, misguided programming. Does the Bible not tell of fighting and wars. Do you not have the moral obligation to defend and protect not only yourself, but your family from evil and harm? You allow yourself to be a victim. Now your family must suffer. Because you are either not there or you have been hurt so badly that you cannot function properly. You can imagine other examples.

Our educational system. School says "Can't Fight". Even if your trying to defend yourself from a bully or a gang. You are forced to allow yourself to be victimized. Go ahead, take my lunch money, ruin my books and clothing. Even hurt me if you want to. I'll get suspended or thrown out if I do anything for self-protection. Again, programming...... Oh, by the way, you can forget about the school (teachers, principle) coming to your aid. The vast majority have a different agenda.

Now for the biggest, most egregious aspect of our society. THE LAW..... We all have heard of the moronic stories of the courts awarding lawsuit judgements, to people who were in the act of committing a crime. Burglary, assualts, holdup's against law abiding people who were only defending themselves. DUH!!, No wonder other countries think were weak and laugh at us.

And speaking of other countries. Their philosophies, teach their childern that it is not only permissable to fight, but it's also their duty. Their programming is to believe that they have the right to fight and kill for country, religion, politics, leaders and even for their food. Rest assured, they have no thought for "Political Correctness". This ideology is not restricted only to the so called third world and/or middle eastern countries. It's even right here in the good old US of A. But not embraced by the general public, only special interest factions.
 

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