Airline security still uncertain

By on October 17, 2002

After twelve months of discussion, hand ringing and finger pointing, is the flying public any safer? Let’s look at the progress and decide.
After a $5 billion bailout of the airline industry, the revitalization of the Sky Marshal program, federalizing gate screeners and checking your shoes – what’s different? Not much.
Today we read stories of a British grandmother, a tourist, having the six-inch toy rifle stripped from the GI Joe doll she had purchased for her seven-year old grandson. The Surrey, England, native was quoted as saying, “They then asked me if there were any toy grenades. I thought they were joking but they were taking the matter seriously.”
The best security money can buy. It seems that common sense costs extra and wasn’t included in the package.
The sad truth is the only sure way to have a chance to survive in “the friendly skies” is to defend the cockpit door.
This door has been re-enforced and is the single barrier between landing and catering.
The news recently reported plans by hijackers to simply “swarm” the passengers and door simply by shear numbers by having eight to twenty terrorists on a flight.
The one fact all airline passengers must remember is that if the aircraft is diverted from it’s flight plan, your fate is in the hands of the Continental Air Defense system. That means that someone’s son or daughter is going to be ordered to destroy your flight and all the passengers.
Recently I asked my Congressman to support arming commercial airline pilots. His response to me was that he didn’t want to burden the pilots with the responsibility of flying and shooting. Obviously, my Congressman has never heard of co-pilots or auto-pilots.
Additionally, and more tellingly, he didn’t want the pilot shooting and hitting that British grandmother in first class. Again, he failed to see that an armed pilot’s role is simply to defend the cockpit by keeping unwanted intruders out, not playing John Wayne down the isles.
My Congressman felt that inaccurate stun guns would be more appropriate. What’s a pilot to do when faced with multiple assailants with human shields?
Thankfully, all the representatives in the House are not as thinking impaired as mine, and in July voted 310-113 to allow commercial pilots to carry firearms. But even this plan will only arm as many as 1,400 pilots, about two percent of those flying thanks to the blocking efforts of the Bush team and the Transportation “Safety” Administration. You’ve got to love that New Speak.
Once two percent of the pilot’s are armed there will be a two percent chance I’ll buy a ticket. In the mean time I’ll drive or take the train.


About Charles Griffin - Staff Writer