View Full Version : Cockpit doors / access

13th Sep 2001, 16:49
The atrocious acts of terrorism would not have happened if it had been impossible to access the flight deck. All the security measures you could dream up to search people at airports will not stop dangerous people boarding aircraft. I believe the passenger who nearly downed the British Airways Nairobi flight was completely unarmed. What you can do is deny them access to the flight deck. This would be the most effective single measure to prevent this disgusting act occurring ever again.

If banks can have security doors to prevent the theft of a few thousand pounds or dollars, surely we should have the same facility to prevent the theft of thousands of innocent lives.

It is time to reconsider the training that we receive in response to unlawful intervention of flights.

Commercial aircraft should not be used as weapons of mass destruction.

Capt PPRuNe
13th Sep 2001, 17:20
Please... get real. The way to prevent this is to stop these murderers getting on the a/c in the first place. Once they are on, whether a hijacker or just a stupid disruptive passenges the problem is compounded.

Do you propose we have a steel door with a time lock and a slot where a plate with some food can be passed through? Forget the slot, just leave us with a pack of rations.

This debate has been going on for years here on PPRuNe and the UK airlines have been slated for having cockpit access to visitors in a controlled way whereas the US airlines have a no cockpit access policy. That policy didn't stop this tragedy and no matter how thick you make that door you will always have someone able to coerce the flight deck crew to open it if they have a hostage and start threatening to harm them.

Up until a few days ago it was never even believed that a hijacker would turn his aircraft into a weapon of mass destruction without some sort of communication. Things will be very different from now on.

The only real way to prevent this ever happening again is to make sure that the intelligent services are in a position to gather enough information to pre-empt such attacks in the first place and make sure that security at ground level in airports is conducted in a much more professional manner.

Unfortunately, we reap the consequences of the never ending cost cutting by bean counters when it comes to services with no tangible return. Considering that many airport security workers are paid less than emloyees at McDonalds and receive the most basic and rudimentary training what can you expect.

SO many people moan about the price of a flight without thinking beyond their own comforts. AIr travel will have to become a more expensive mode of transport in the future if you want to lessen the chances of another atrocity. Sadly, too many people forget these tragedies far too quickly and begin complaining about the costs for what is often an invisible service.

The strengthening of the cockpit door is not the answer. Prevention of letting these murderers on board in the first place is paramount. Unfortunately we are now seeing the authorities in knee-jerk mode and the modification of airspace and the extra vigilance at airports can be associated with the words "bolted", "horse" and "stable door".

Flap 5
13th Sep 2001, 17:26
One of the problems of having a stronger cockpit door is that the cockpit door has to have blow out panels for the pressurisation failure case.

13th Sep 2001, 17:49

I don't often disagree with you, but in this case you are so wrong. Even in Prison, where prisoners are repeatedly strip searched and constantly contained in a sterile envirnment it is impossible to keep the knives out with which prisoners are always murdering each other.

There is no accounting for a small group of people bent on suicide. Now that it has been proven just how easy it really is, this could be done by a group of unarmed people with martial arts skills.

The answer will be to configure the aircraft similar to the 757 PF, where the forward door is for the cockpit, and then there is a solid barrier between the main deck and the cockpit. Access to the cockpit is going to have be from outside the aircraft only, with its own self contained mini galley and Lav. In the case of the AA aircraft, they tried to storm the door and it held. THen they started cutting to flight attendants untill the pilots relented and opened the doors. The knives used consisted of plasic handles into which the razor blades from their shaving kit was inserted. More than enough to cut a throat.

The answer will have to be in a complete redesign of the aircraft to the above configuration, and in the short term armed sky marshals on every flight untill the aircraft is reconfigured. That way the crew can't be coerced into releasing the locks.

An aircraft is just a giant fuel air bomb. Turn on CNN if you don't believe me.


13th Sep 2001, 20:20
KLM ordered all cockpit doors closed in-flight from now on.
No more visits by passengers allowed.

13th Sep 2001, 22:57
Capt PPRuNE,

I agree with your comments regarding increased security prior to boarding. I also agree with your comments relating to pay and conditions for security staff. I am less qualified to comment on their training.

However, I can’t see how any intelligence service, even if given infinite resources could prevent a fanatical suicide “pilot” boarding an aircraft as a passenger. Although this particular attack was the work of a organized groups of terrorists, a suitably deranged individual, with no previous criminal record and with no previously apparent motive, could get into the flight deck and jeopardize the safety of the aircraft with minimal weapons – or none at all.

Regardless of how much extra money is spent on screening and security prior to boarding, I honestly don’t think you can stop someone with no previous conviction, known terrorist involvement or motive (or indeed, traveling under a false identity) from boarding an aircraft – and as we have seen once they are on board they CAN cause dreadful damage not only to the aircraft and its occupants but also to thousands of people on the ground. We need to ensure that they CANNOT.

The rules of terrorism and hijacking have been rewritten and we need to fully examine the whole aspect of airborne security.

13th Sep 2001, 23:49
I agree entirely with ckings comments above,
It is time now to ensure that the flight deck becomes some kind of secure enviroment with the best planners in the aviation business finding a way that is ameanable and secure.

The BA 747 was seconds from certain disaster
and with 4 large airliners taken within minutes of each other, no-one is safe any more.

While we thought air-rage was almost unthinkable 10 years ago, now we are seeing things very differently.

Now that terrorists or anyone with cruel streak knows that these acts are certain to succeed,short of bodysearching all passengers,and blacklisting those from certain countries, this type of sabotage is almost certain to re-occur.

Its time to open our eyes to this new type of threat and get on top of it ASAP.

Dom Joly
14th Sep 2001, 00:00
Have to agree with point raised by Danny.

These guys once allowed on an aircraft will get to the cockpit one way or another.

If you lock the door, at some point you'll need to have access for food/drinks, stretch or the call of nature. In this day and age when many aircraft are downsizing, supplying the pilots with their own restroom will surely not be worn by airliners operating regional jets (just as dangerous as the bigger aircraft in the wrong hands!).

If the door is locked during flight it would increase the time period to ingress the cockpit BUT for the sake of maybe 1 minute. Pilots would still probably be unaware of the situation. Whose to say that they wouldn't take a cabin attendant hostage and convince them with said shaving kit to open the door or communicate to flight deck that they are bringing drinks in.

Why stop there? They could easily spike both flight crew drinks, then when they're unconcious volenteer their own services as (MS Flight Sim?) qualified pilots.

So the answer 1st lies in detecting these b****rds and keeping them away from aircraft. Anyone caught planning or conspiring to such acts should be dealt with in the most SEVERE way possible. They have no regard for they're lives anyway, so why not give them a helping hand on they're way to they're maker!

14th Sep 2001, 00:11
This topic is already being discussed on the Tech. Log (and every other forum!) at: http://www.pprune.org/cgibin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=3&t=002473

I guess it's a question on everyone's mind.

14th Sep 2001, 00:56
I agree we do not want these type of people onboard in the 1st place, but on what premise are you going to deny access?

You would have to vet billions of people (impossible)and check on their past histories.
Then you have to exact proof of ID,again impossible.

I have been on 2 flights in the last 15 years with groups of Arabic / N African passengers behaving very suspiciously,
-like something out of a movie.

In this situation, we had no idea of their origins , intentions , and their purpose for being onboard.- You can't stage an interrogation mid-cabin on pushback, just because you have a hunch.

(These guys in both circumstances, moved frequently around the cabin , and were spread throughout the aircraft, passing hand-signals and mouthing expressions to one another.)

It is very difficult to find a solution, and I would think almost impossible to create a list of known terrorists/sympathisers, and have this information quickly accessible to all airlines at short notice.

Theres a good solution somewhere, I hope someone finds it and implements it before we have another such tragedy .

14th Sep 2001, 00:57
Now gents, one very difficult question needs to be adressed and that is :

Will, would any of us open the cockpit door EVER again EVEN if the girls at the back were being butchered, be it over the Atlantic or Europe ? I am rostered next week after having flown on that tragic day and I am dreading thoses anxious looks at briefing because I think we all know the answer or do we not ?
Not only has this taken highjacking to a new level of horror but it will also certainly change a lot of things within crew relations.
Of course security at airports needs to be beefed up but like someone else said, and sadely so, this, however tragic and brutal act of barbarism will be quickly, or rather quickly forgotten because the Western world has always been used to move freely around the globe . Give it just a while until these new measures are felt like being a pain in the toush.
I've always been a strong advocate of closed cockpit door. The stronger the door, the better. All the nearmisses that happened these last months or years ( BA, Air France, ANA etc ....) were just a wake up call that nobody listened to.
That surely never happened on El Al.
What a shitty day !
Opinions greatly welcomed.

[ 13 September 2001: Message edited by: wallabie ]

[ 13 September 2001: Message edited by: wallabie ]

14th Sep 2001, 03:10

You'll be astonished, but I agree. What is wrong with both belt (adequate checks to prevent boarding) and braces (a locked cockpit door from push-back to shut-down)?


5 APU's captain
14th Sep 2001, 21:14
All soviet aircraft have an iron door closed from take-off till landing. In AEROFLOT it could be opened after special signal from the flight attendant only. And every one crew had two handguns..... and there are some killed highjackers........ But I am still not sure what is better.....

14th Sep 2001, 22:02
I'm just an engineer. But I'll design you a cockpit interface which can't be penetrated without serious power tools, and which will function as required for the de-pressurization case as well as for other HVAC cases. No charge. Will the airlines be prepared to pay the cost in weight and revenue loss? We shall see, I guess.

As with all the other suggestions made, there is no one silver bullet which will fix all these problems. What seems to be significant is to look at a whole spectrum of options. Not all of them have to be deployed, all the time. Not all of them will work in all cases. Some, at least, will involve some terrible decisions on the part of flight-deck crew, and those of you that do that are going to have to start looking within yourselves to see whether you are ready to do those things.

If someone starts killing cabin crew or passengers to try and make you let them onto the flight deck, there is a good chance now that they want your airplane for keeps, and not just for you to take them to Cuba.

When you push back, you take the lives of every piece of SLF in your hands. That's enough responsibility for most people, right there.

Now, when some wild-eyed maniac starts cutting up the passengers or the cabin crew becasue you won't open the door, there's a good chance that he's not only planning to kill everyone aboard (sooner or later) but also to kill as many people on the ground as he can get to. Those of you forward of the cockpit door are the only hope then, not only for everyone behind you but for large numbers of people on the ground as well. You may well have to decide that the people behind you are going to have to take their chances in order to avert much greater loss of life below.

Some of you may be ready for that terrible calculus. Others may not. But I think that you should at least consider giving the tools to make that work to those who are ready to use them, and that means a cockpit bulkhead that will keep you alive and capable of putting the a/c on the ground - any ground - where it can't hurt anyone else.

Of course security at US airports needs to be seriously upgraded from the present joke status. Of course we need tools to identify and extract people who would do this sort of thing. Of course we need to explore ways to prevent a/c from being used in these ways, even if they are taken over by skilled pilots who welcome death. But I submit that giving the flight crew the option of keeping the a/c out of the hands of such aggressors is just another part of this whole spectrum of prevention.


15th Sep 2001, 00:09
The other factor will now be the willingness of the other passengers in any future Hi-Jack to "get involved".

If you are on a hi-jacked plane now, the stakes have changed. You could well be fighting for your own and many other potential lives. I think that you will find that in future attempts the passengers will be much more willing to get involved in a direct way. Obviously the rumours about the bravery of the SLF on the Philly plane will do nothing but inspire. Would you do the same ? I like to think that I would.

Locking and securing the doors to the flight deck will ONLY work, if the crew refuse under every circumstance to open it up during a Hi-Jack senario. That means leaving all the cabin crew and SLF to their own devices, and simply getting the plane onto the ground ASAP.

That is obviously a massive re-think to the passive methods instructed of pilots today.

What would you do ?

How would you feel having landed a plane with a number of murdered passengers in the back because you didn't open the door ?

Should we assume that all future Hi-jacks are destined for building impact and should therefore ignore ALL demands from the main cabin ?

This is a tough subject. Giving up your responsibility to the cabin crew and SLF is not going to be easy.

15th Sep 2001, 00:26
For info: Brymon Airways(Dash8 & EMB145) have banned flight deck visits. The document does'nt say but by just a little lateral thinking this bans commercial jumpseaters)always at the Captains discretion) as well! As a result of this understandable direction I had to refuse in flight access to a 5 year old girl and her 3 year old brother. Still we got them up for a look after landing. I am very glad to say that their parents were very understanding & supportive when I explained why I had refused.

15th Sep 2001, 00:32
I'm of the opinion that a sealed cockpit is the only way - regrettably steward/esses would have to get killed, whilst the pilots find the nearest airport, land, and disenbark through hatch whilst the plane is disablised somehow. Once highjackers know this is the routine - and that anything they do will not get them in the cockpit, then this should act as a deterent.

The only problem is that pilots will have to
stay locked in whatever - as one highjacker could play at being drunk & disorderly or whatever, to lure a pilot out, whilst fellow hijacker gained access.

This would mean that a locked cabin would mean that 100% no cockpit access throughout flight *whatever* happens - otherwise it is pointless.

[ 14 September 2001: Message edited by: RedMonkey ]

[ 14 September 2001: Message edited by: RedMonkey ]

15th Sep 2001, 00:56

"Do you propose we have a steel door with a time lock and a slot where a plate with some food can be passed through? Forget the slot, just leave us with a pack of rations."

For those lucky enough to have crew food :) :)

15th Sep 2001, 14:56
Isolate the cockpit and put surveillance cameras and cabin comms through sat comms to a ground based incident room for seperate relay to the flight deck as required. Cost about 3 seats on a 757 or 2% on seat costs. This would stop the aircraft being used as a missile. It would not stop the lone suicide bomber who can only be combatted by efficient pre-flight screening.

15th Sep 2001, 15:34
Why not remove the pilots and the cockpit altogether? All commercial passenger aircraft could be flown remotely from the ground and then there's no possibility of a hijacker threatening the pilots or taking over the controls.

On the other hand we could try to avoid kneejerk and/or extreme reactions. It would be easy to over-react in this instance because of the sheer scale of the loss of life and destruction, however, I agree with Danny in his early post that the most effective way to deal with this threat is to prevent would be hijackers from gaining access to aircraft in the first place. These were four aircraft out of the many thousand commercial flights worldwide each day. Each was an internal US flight where for many years security has been notorious for its laxity compared with international flights. Hijacking on international flights is almost non-existent and despite the horror of what happened on Tuesday the scale of any future threat and the answer to it should be assessed in a calm and rational manner. Increased security on internal flights is likely to remove the risk of such an incident occuring with a comemrcial passenger aircraft in the future. Unfortunately it will not remove the likelihood of other terrorist atrocities continuing in the future.

Bobby Guzzler
15th Sep 2001, 15:50
I think that the acts that happened were beyond anyone's imagination - who would have thought that all this could be carried with the threat of knives only! - Scary!

About the cockpit door - has it never been suggested to make them sliding? - This way, if locked no-one would even be able to kick them down!

Also in light of what has happened - is there not a facility in the pipe dreams, that allows an over-ride that cannot be altered once decided - i.e. maybe a failsafe button that automatically takes the control away from any of the pilots? ATC could perform autolands / VOR courses etc!

I know this would cause immense problems if it went wrong - but it would stop mad men with no value for human life flying into packed buildings! :mad:

15th Sep 2001, 16:02
Sealing up the cockpit completely from the rest of the aircraft may sound like a good idea, but it creates other problems too. Pilot incapacitation, for example. What if one guy gets incapacitated & you have a bunch of other off-duty colleagues travelling in the back? What about resource management then? Yes, you can say 'just too bad, it's worth the risk'. But then it's really all a balance, isn't it? It's no secret that the statistics are that incidences of crew incapacitation are far, far higher than incidences of the sort we've just seen in NY & DC. Or what'll happen if you need to go behind to take a look for yourself? Like your pre-takeoff de-icing visual check of the wing? Or even some kind of problem that developes in flight when you might want to send the F/O back (time permitting) to take a look? So where do we draw the line? You solve one thing only to have open up a bigger can of worms for yourself. What happenned on Tues is pathetic & shameful to say the least, but in the bigger picture, the chances of this happenning again are more slim than having some of the other types of in-flight problems.

15th Sep 2001, 16:30
Some people have suggested that a system could be installed to allow ATC to control an aircraft remotely in order to take control away from hijackers who might have gained access to the flight deck.

Bad idea. Why? The technology may already exist but installing such a system would create a new vulnerability. If there is a system for remote control of an aircraft then there will be the possibility that non-suicidal terrorists could gain control of that system and use an aircraft as a missile without putting themselves in danger.

[ 15 September 2001: Message edited by: stagger ]

15th Sep 2001, 17:48

All the world's freighters have no acces to the back, and no extra crew to draw on.

ON a long haul flight the extra crew would already be foward with the cockpit crew. On a short haul flight the reason that airplanes have two pilots is that in the event of the loss of one, the other can land the aircraft. That is the whole point, or we would already be down to one pilot in the cockpit like on the Cessna Jets...

There is nothing to be checked in the back. If there is a question, LAND the airplane. There are actually virtually no pilot serviceable parts in the back of a jet, and is just for peace of mind. But if you got that serious a question, land the jet and let an engineer look at it. As far as landing Gear down locks go, that can easily be done with cameras.


15th Sep 2001, 19:07
Capt Pprune is correct on this issue we must look at ways of stopping this from happening again but not to the detriment of all other flights. A closed door is a barrier to effective crew communications and situational awareness, remember Sioux City there would have been much greater loss of life if the training Captain who was a pax could not have entered the flight deck to help! How would you deal with a pilot incompacitation if there was no flight deck access from the cabin. Lets be serious here and concern ourselves with all flights and all possible scenarios, we are in charge of the whole aircraft not just the flight deck we need access to the whole aircraft otherwise we might as well fly it via radio control from the ground.

Airborne Hamster
15th Sep 2001, 19:13

These comments make sense.Why not shut the bloody cockpit door?What is the price for hot food.A sick debate when 10,000 people have just been crushed to death.Sorry , but if a 10 yr old can't visit the FlightDeck to look at the view and say nothing then so be it.Where do you draw the line...10yrs,13yrs,16yrs...Kids become fanatics too.Eg TV pictures of 36hrs ago.

Up the (new) Revolution.(ours)

15th Sep 2001, 20:14
As many already pointed out, what really makes sense is a combination of reinforced and/or redesigned cockpit doors AND an enormously sophisticated passenger tracking and "extraction" system on the ground.

What do I mean by a reinforced door? Something that will withstand kicks and bullets. Why not get them specially made with the lightest strong material available, lined with kev on the inside to keep bullets away. This would probably have to extend the entire wall of the cockpit. And the sliding door idea might actually work provided they arent too tensile/flexible. Add to it a CC camera to let the flying crew kow who's knocking on the other side and that should be a substantial safeguard and deterrent against intruders.


Chimbu chuckles
15th Sep 2001, 20:45
In the end it will come down to cost against benefit.

Redesign aircraft so that we are locked in an airtight little cocoon?

Bloody expensive when you look at the world wide fleet!.

Video cameras in the cockpit won't stop the collision with the building...just film it from a better angle than the networks will ever manage.

Remote control?...give me a break!

Increased security? Lets think about this for a minute...WAS there actually an airport security breakdown that contributed to this obscenity....NO...a bunch of individuals boarded some aircraft, with no weapons as such, took the aircraft over and rammed the the WTC and Pentagon. They could as easily have used the aircraft fire extinguishers to bludgeon the crew.

Think about it for a minute.....you will NEVER EVER be able to identify a potential terrorist pilot from all the other people boarding the aircraft. These people don't have ANY identifying physical features, they just believe in a cause in a way, and to an extent, we can't understand!

You are not going to stop these things from beginning....only from ending badly!

Do El AL have all the BS ideas people are coming up with...NO....have they been hijacked in living memory....NO, and they are at the epicentre of the terrorist world. rightly or wrongly they are the catalyst for most hijackings by Islamic Nutcases! What do they do? Carry armed and HIGHLY trained 'sky marshals'(Mosad chappies at a guess).

The ONLY way, IMHO, you are going to battle this proble in a credible manner is to have HIGHLY trained 'airborne snipers'.

We have regulations which dictate minimum F/As per number of seats, perhaps the same will need to be done for 'airborne security'.

No-one will no how many, where they are seated in the cabin, or ANYthing else about them. Lets face it, how many times would you even have to displace paying pax?

This ONE move would virtually stop hijacks dead,pun intended, in their tracks. The cost is miniscule compared to the overcomplicated crap half of the posts on this(and other threads) are suggesting!

These people already exist and are trained to the required levels, they're called SAS!

All this **** about landing a jet with a blood bath going on in the back 'cause we're not opening the door is crap.

Redesign nothing! Let little Johnny and his sister come up and wonder at the magic....I WANT to be sexually harrased by the girlies in the back....Lock me in my own atmosphere with a cut lunch for X hours of zero communication with my crew and you can shove this job right up your.....!!!!!

CHUCK :mad: :mad: :mad:

Hank Rogers
15th Sep 2001, 21:07
Hey boys, get real.

If you get a call from the cabin and somebody is telling you if you do not open the door within 5 sec he starts killing cabin crew and passengers, you must be a realy tough guy not opening the door.
By the way on Swissair and El Al flights you can buy swiss army knifes and Leatherman on board.

stay safe

15th Sep 2001, 21:43
If tv news is to be believed strengthend doors are to fitted to all UK aircraft by law.

15th Sep 2001, 23:10
As Hank Rogers says: Come on guys, get real!!

All this searching for knives and panic all around is a bit ridiculous. I mean it's good that we make our thoughts about security and take appropriate measures. However, to fall from one extreme to the other makes no sense either.
Cockpit doors closed all the time. I don't like the idea. How's about the whole topic of CRM (remember it's called CREW Resource Management, not COCKPIT Resource Management)!
Also the big discussions about the knives at the moment. If we can remove all the knives on an airliner then what's about all the other items (glas bottles, scissors from the first aid kit and so on...)??? I guess if they want to bring an airliner down, it will be always possible. As you have seen their imagination is sadly always beyond ours.
I think the industry has to evaluate the whole situation carefully and then take appropriate measures. I just hope they don't overreact now. However, don't take me wrong, I agree that this was a horrible act of terrorism which has to be punished.

Dagger Dirk
16th Sep 2001, 01:56
The answer to defeating unlawful interference might lie with this solution:

this LINK (http://www.iasa-intl.com/RoboLander.htm)

Raw Data
16th Sep 2001, 04:18
Much as I enjoy entertaining visitors on my flight deck, the only way to defeat this problem is 1)inpenetrable flight deck doors (I believe El Al already has these), 2) a video camera in the cabin with a monitor in the flight deck, and 3) on-board security (again, I believe El Al already do this).

Crews need to be trained to be assertive here... if a terrorist is cutting Cabin Crew throats, when you open the door you can virtually guarantee that you and all the pax will be dead in short order... NEVER open the door. Depressurise the aircraft, do some aerobatics, whatever... but don't open the door. Just land ASAP. Once terrorists know that they will be physically unable to gain control of the aircraft, the problem recedes.

As many, many experts have said over the last few days, it is impossible to defeat the determined terrorist by prevention alone. Sorry Danny, but on this one you are well wide of the mark.

16th Sep 2001, 10:20
(Now I appreciate that I might be falling into the trap of believing what I read in the newspaper), but I have to say that I was more than a little surprised to learn that two airlines of the calibre and standing of UA and AA appear to have had a procedure in place that had a pilot going into the cabin to intervene in an altercation between passengers and cabin crew. (“Pilot ‘lured’ from flight deck, then attacked by hijacker.”)

In my little airline, (a lot younger and with far fewer resources and experience than either of those two great airlines), it has been SOP for years now that when airborne, a pilot will NOT intervene in any problem in the cabin under any circumstances. This procedure wasn’t introduced primarily for the hijack situation, (although it was a consideration), but more for the air rage one. (Very sensibly, I think), the last thing our management and flight safety people wanted to see was a pilot wearing a bunch of fives from an angry, perhaps drunken pax and then having to stagger back to the cockpit – if he was still capable of doing so – to attempt to fly the aircraft.

This whole sorry mess might (and hopefully will) bring about a massive sea change in the attitude of the American public to litigation and that ‘someone must pay’ for every discomfort or frustration they suffer. Not a month before this, an American court awarded a woman 1.25 million dollars compensation for the ‘trauma’ she suffered as a passenger on a Delta flight where the crew did an exemplary job in successfully landing a stricken aircraft suffering major technical malfunctions in truly horrible weather conditions. I await, hopefully in vain, to see the myriad lawsuits that will surface after the current WTC tragedy.

Maybe this tragedy will convince Americans of something many people in less fortunate parts of the world have known for a very long time – sh-t happens, sometimes inexplicably, often tragically. Yes, safety and preventative procedures can and should be tightened in view of what’s just happened. But to all those coming out with sometimes sensible, sometimes ridiculous suggestions on how to slam the proverbial door behind THIS particular bolted horse, get it into your heads what all the experts will tell you should you ask. There is no way in the world short of putting each and every one of us in a steel box and never moving from it that you can stop an assassin who is willing to die in carrying out his mission.

I think that all of us, if we want to continue in the business of moving people from A to B, are going to have to face the fact of our mortality a little more consciously than we have perhaps been doing to date. (And so will the people we move from A to B.) There are desperate, not always crazy, people out there who have learned all too clearly over the last week, if they didn’t know it before, that they can make their ‘statement’ with relative ease if they are willing to die in the attempt and we have to face the sorry fact that short of strangling our transport industry to the point where we will all be walking to wherever we want to go, we’re going to have to live with it.

Chris Lock
16th Sep 2001, 11:06
Whether its terrorists or just plain air rage, these people are going to slip through the cracks here and there and get on the airplanes, no matter how good the security is on the ground. You lock several hundred people up in a cramped tube with personnel that are ill equipped to handle a seriously violent episode, and its only a matter of time before something disasterous happens. We have security people at bars, sporting events, etc, why not on aircraft?!?! Lets start immediately by putting an armed guard in the jumpseat and at least one in the cabin. People who's sole purpose is to deal with life threatening situations and who have the ability to keep these kook bastards in control as a last line of defense. There
have been too many incidents of people flipping out and assaulting crew members,
this last tragedy was the final straw!!!!

16th Sep 2001, 11:23
My company has recently adopted the same SOP, for the same reason.
I have seen it posted somewhere, and think it not a bad first aid measure, to depressurise the aircraft in the event of an attempted takeover (assuming above about 25000ft or so).
What next? I suppose maintain altitude until overhead, then a 2G spiral to final.... I really don't know. Any prior warning from the cabin would be useful, in any event, so a stronger door would help.

16th Sep 2001, 12:09
You cannot totally remove the threat of a determined terrorist on an aircraft. The very least you can do is minimise it. Better cockpit security is only part of the answer, as is better ground vetting of passengers. At least two sky marshalls, or in this country, gentlemen from Hereford, as has happened in the past (not always with the knowledge of the flight crew)is also effecive in reducing risk. There are effective ways to prevent passengers bringing metal knives aboard, but sadly in this day and age there are alternatives to metal blades if you have the connevtions and the money, which these terrorists obviously do and as any US policeman who has been to a Danny Innocento demonstration will attest, a knife is more dangerous than a gun in an enclosed space.

Capn Notarious
16th Sep 2001, 13:10
Im what is known as self loading freight.
It is the view forward from the flightdeck that interests me.
Why not have an video camera, so that we can see, that which you aircrew have paid, /$/time/study to carry us safely over.
Not all of us want the inflight film and adverts. I was once priveliged to be standing behind The Boss, when he said "We are flying over The Cherbourg peninsula."
My suggestion: Have some of the screen inflight status reports with real time video images.
Good wishes to all

16th Sep 2001, 13:35
As a North Sea Helicopter Commander, we have an open cockpit and are unable to close it other than with a curtain. I am seriously thinking about moving to fixed wing, but this whole incident and jaded my view.

Having been a guest on the flight deck, I totally understand not wanting public access. Somebody mentioned "you have to be strong to deny access when crew members are being executed", well as an ex police officer....you do have to be strong, or look what happens.

Don't let them on board in the first place, talk to El Al on how to do that.

Safe flying to you all!

Wee Weasley Welshman
16th Sep 2001, 13:50
I don't think we will see any changes for some considerable time.

Most likely soon will be a modification to current Hi-jack SOP's whereby the current rules apply unless and until the first attempt is made to remove a pilot from the seat - then its extinguisher and CSD time.

I don't see the relevance of flightdeck visits or door locking when the door is still fragile.

Let us recall that in the WTC incident the terrorists did not sneak anything on board other than a male wash kit. All the gate security in the world would fail.

Weapons on board can be manufactured and lets face it - 3 fit strong blokes snapping the cabin crew necks is no different than stabbing or slotting their throats. So, you cannot stop the people nor the means from being on board.

That only really leaves the flightdeck door. I can't see a worldwide fleet modification being ordered due to cost and practicality. On the smaller jets - lets say a common Embraer 145 - there simply will not be the space to install a new wall, galley and toilet. If you don't modify EVERY jet then the all you are doing is making the few remaining in the old format extremely tempting targets - thus people will not fly on them, nor indeed, pilot them.

I think a better short term and feasible move would be:

1) Improve cockpit security by beefing up the current doors and intalling cctv of the cabin.

2) Improve mandatory comms on board so continuous digital flightdeck audio is gauranteed on open mike to airline ops.

3) Utilise current air defence assets to ensure domestic 24/7 CAP with standing orders allowing downing of airliners.

The combination of 1,2&3 should allow a reasonably confident decision to be made that the aircraft is now hostile. It can be shot down. No target is hit. It would be therefore better to use a bomb on board as is the case now.

The madatory upgrade in comms can be used to install new efficiencies such as radios you can't cross on, ACARS, in flight medical relay, pax communications/email/web, ATC clearances et al.

At least this way 'we' benefit operationally from the cost.


16th Sep 2001, 14:08
By the way guys, don't forget, that fanatics could well already be in the employ of the airlines as pilots. Locking them in gives them complete unhindered access to do what they wish.

16th Sep 2001, 15:07
Good, a lot of good ideas and safety projects in the air, but, can anybody tell me when my family, relatives or friends walk to the mall, train station, subway or just to take the bus, what is going to prevent any of this "insane" fanatics from doing what they just did? Sorry if my comment is out of place, but I believe this topic doesn't involve just aviation, it involves a hole WAY of life.
If the beings, I cannot call them people, causing all this terror believe that they are from a different race, sorry, but the will have to be extinguished.
In the meantime, any upgrade of safety measures will make this "beings" think things twice, but is not going to stop them.
Happy landings everybody. :confused:

16th Sep 2001, 18:37
Capn natarious,

AA used to have cockpit cameras that were broadcast in the main cabin. That ended with the DC-10 Crash in Chicago where everyone got to watch the ground rise up to meet them.

I think other airlines also had it up till then. If you want to see what it is like to fly, my best advice is to go to the local airport and take a flying lesson. They are fairly cheap when taken singly. It is only breath takingly expensive when you are trying to obtain a rating and have to take a very large number of them.


Chimbu chuckles
16th Sep 2001, 18:44
I presume you have some idea how much 24/7 CAP over every airport capable of jet operations in the World will cost!

Who will pay for that?
Who will explain the accidental shoot down of some small nations aircraft that is having comms problems and wanders off track a bit?

Why are you all so keen to finish the job, economically speaking, that the terrorists started?

Sorry WWW but move to the top of the silly/expensive/impractical ideas list.

People if we keep kicking around, let alone let Govt Agencies keep kicking around, truly dumb ideas that have NO CHANCE of a positive effect on the problem this industry is FINISHED economically.

Arming crews will not work for the reason that to use a suitable weapon effectively requires LOTS and LOTS of specific training. The SAS train LONG and HARD at effective Anti Terrorist scenarios. Just shooting someone, who is probably on an INCREDIBLE Adrenaline high won't necessarily slow them down, let alone disable them. There was a case of a gun fight between US FBI Agents and two nutcase gunman in Florida years ago and one nutcase was shot a dozen odd times(over quite a long period of time) before he finally stopped shooting cops dead! What finally stopped him ? Loss of blood! 6, from memory, Cops died before the guy just collapsed! Macho bravado aside there would not be 10% of airline crew with the skills and mental strength to make the split second correct decision required to do other than agravate the situation, or shoot an innocent pax who is behind the baddy.

Seperate cockpits is not economically possible.

Any amount of airport security would not have stopped last weeks tragedy, unless the Terrorists were on a data base! What percentage of the worlds POTENTIAL terrorists will ever make it on a database.

Depressurise at FL350 and possibly kill how many innocent pax?(or are the masks going to deploy thereby giving your trained/motivated nutcase another chance?) Imagine the Law Suits from the Ambulance chasers!

Some sort of 'Knock out Gas'? Imagine the PR nightmare that would cause the airlines that try to intro it? Accidental discharge Knocks out tech crew?

2g spiral down the suitable airport that just happens to be right below you in the 2 or 3 minutes that this will all be over in? Through, with the advent of RVSM, 35 or 40 other levels with possible traffic.

For the sake of our industry and professions PLEASE stop all this paranoid, meaningless ramble and contact your IFALPA reps and insist that the ONLY airline that hasn't and probably won't suffer this attrocity is approached to brief Govt and Airline management on the techniques that HAVE WORKED for them for decades! Israeli Airlines.


[ 16 September 2001: Message edited by: Chimbu chuckles ]

tony draper
16th Sep 2001, 18:48
A good quality hi res 660 line colour cctv camera can be had for about 500 quid, looking back from the cockpit door location covering the entire cabin.
Could be installed quickly and cheaply.
I'll do the job for you in a hour, straight grand a pop.


[ 16 September 2001: Message edited by: tony draper ]

Few Cloudy
16th Sep 2001, 19:27
Well my door is going to be locked. If anyone wants to communicate he can use the interphone.

Sky marshals - tigers - call them what you like are used by some airlines - on some flights. This evil act has shown that any flight by any airline is at risk.

And all the fancy ideas about what to do with pressurisation etc. shouldn't be on the internet - available to any terrorist. In Swissair, once a hijacker was overcome by a sky marshall wielding a small champagne bottle. This news was in the paper the next day.

This is war gentlemen and the intelligence gained should be kept in company secure channels. Typically the publicity about people who were suspected for having one way tickets - the people who got demasked through simulator records mean one less chance of detection next time, as these diabolical fanatics think up new ways.

16th Sep 2001, 19:48
I'm with Chimbu Chuckles. The simplest quickest solution, that would assauage passengers' and crews' immediate fears is the immediate introduction of ingognito air marshals, at least one per flight. A flight deck is not a terribly difficult place to defend, a very confined space, with only one useable narrow access. Assuming the would be attacker doesn't have a gun, then a/c on aotopilot and an electric cattle prod would do the trick.
Seriously though, all solutions have to considered. What is true is that every airline and authority is going to have to address crew training. In spite of the fact that aircraft have frequently been placed in danger by disruptive pax, there has not been to my knowledge any serious airline reaction except "jail 'em". Too late.


17th Sep 2001, 01:46

The skymarshals are more expensive than the seperate cockpits.

You got to block a seat for the skymarshal. Then you have to pay him to sit in the seat. All the time.

The ElAL apparently allready use my method of a completely isolated cockpit and that is most likely gonna be the way to go. On the A300 that I fly, it can easily be done with no loss of doors or seats, though an extra door to the cockpit would have to be added. But adding a door is no big deal. BIG doors are added to aircraft all the time when they are converted to freighters.

This will happen again, if only because it was so wildly successful.

The answer in the short term is sky marshals, untill the aircraft can be modified. Then once the aircraft is modified, then the skymarshals can be removed.


17th Sep 2001, 02:05
Sealed flight deck doors are a non starter. Even the cost of supplying basic amenities such as galley and loo and leg stretch area, yes pilots suffer from DVT as well. But will airlines / the paying passenger be prepared to pay for the third pilot on every flight. Who else is going to tighten the harness and pull the incapacitated pilot clear of the controls?

So it looks like we have to have sky marshalls and three crew on every flight.

Low cost airlines?????

17th Sep 2001, 03:17
who does all that you think on the freighters? The 757 PF is configured exactly that way already with a new crew door cut further forward, a solid bulkhead behind it, and a lav and galley more or less in the cockpit. 100s have been built and are successfully flying with a 2 man crew. Who pulls the UPS pilot out of the controls?

Any of these aircraft can be flown by one pilot in the even of incapacitation of the other pilot. Are you saying that UPS is unsafe? How about all the other freighters out there?

It is the only long term answer. Infact all 757s delivered tomorrow could probably be in the PF config with the windows and seats reinstalled behind the solid bulkhead! It seams that 757 could be arriving at the airlines in no time at all properly configured.


17th Sep 2001, 03:52
These ideas all have merits, but must be weighed up against the problems they cause. How about a beefed up door which is normally locked before take-off until above a certain FL, but open during cruise for CRM/Food purposes. The door needs to be capable of being broken down within a minute using sufficient force in case of the sleeper scenario. This needs to be tied in with an effective CCTV system so we know when to hit the lock button if trouble occurs. After these precautions I think we all realise that its up to the pax to look after themselves, be it in the case where the door stays locked after trouble flares, or in the case of forced/sleeper entry to the cockpit that they can overpower the hijackers then. Most of us only have jobs because air travel is relatively cheap at the moment, lets bear that in mind.

Wee Weasley Welshman
17th Sep 2001, 04:47
Chimbu - CAP above London, Paris, LA, NY, et al would be dirt cheap as the pilots, aircraft and support are already there. All you would be doing is moving the CAP a few hundred miles. Lets not forget that the UK up until the late 1980's kept a constant CAP plus a credible QRF and a short notice nuclear strike force.

Secure digital satcom could be provided for less than 2million per aircraft with frills. Beefed up doors would be less than 100k with cctv.

Or we could just issue flightcrew with .44 magnums and be done with it.


17th Sep 2001, 08:40
Actually, I was interested to learn that Wino's 757 freighters already have isolated cockpits. The company I work for have about 48 747-400s with about 8 freighters & we fly them all as 1 type. The freighter cockpits aren't isolated from the rest of the airplane; we have total access to the main deck, although we don't have any procedures that require us there in flight. The only parts of the airplane we can't get to are the lower cargo holds. But that's an interesting thought all the same, but I'm personally not keen on being completely cut off from the rest of the aircraft.

Final 3 Greens
17th Sep 2001, 11:15
The problem here is that we are rationalising a response to people whose values seem completely irrational to us, so we struggle to equate our thinking to theirs.

If the flight deck door is locked and hijackers are running free, what other tactics could they try? Popping the doors or hatches and trying to cause damage by depressurisation (if this is not feasible, forgive my lack of knowledge.)

It seems a reasonable response to lock the f/d door under the circumstances (will make the slf feel better if nothing else and their cash is vital at the moment), but it is treating a symptom.

Increasing security on the ground is also a reasonable response, but I guess what is needed is a full review of how ops work and some thinking outside the box to deliver an end-to-end solution.

I wish i was clever enough to come up with an answer, but I am not.

As a regular traveller, I just hope that the authorities and carriers seriously address the new situation we find ourselves in as a matter of urgency.

23rd Sep 2001, 00:06
There may be a way to increase flight deck security and allow crew to move in and out of the cabin as necessary. I understand that El Al have fitted on all their aircraft an armoured interlinked double door. There is space between the doors for one person, and one person only. The inner door cannot be opened unless the outer door is locked, rather like an airlock.

Combine this with a viewer, and it would be very difficult for a hijacker to enter the flight deck, but a pilot could still go back to check downlock viewers etc, and the cabin crew could come forward with food and the regular cups of tea that we British types cannot go more than 20 minutes without.

What do you think?

23rd Sep 2001, 23:13
Yes, my cockpit door will stay close, in case of the horrible events above depicted. A problem for anybody? As one of the members pointed, you have to be tough.
Problem is that, in our industry, many seem to be a little... soft (which is understanbable, after all they didn't join to fight!)
Many talks also, before, about El AL. Yes, good security there. By the way, in this company, how many of their pilots don't have a military background (former fighter jocks of the IAF)? Very, very few, I have been told. But maybe I am wrong?

24th Sep 2001, 00:24
I'm SLF and probably likely to stay that way for good now. After all the competition for the remaining jobs has just hotted up significantly. (BA, Virgin etc).

From my humble viewpoint, please keep your doors locked. As for the [email protected] about viewing gear-down locks :rolleyes: when was the last time you left the cabin in flight? Ask the staff to do it and report by the phone.

It would however be nice to have a brief word after landing, I'm sure that even the chief smiling officer would allow that. I do acknowledge that after landing is probably the busiest time of the whole flight

What all pax appreciate is a little bit of communication from both drivers. Geography lessons are a safe topic, but we do like to be told if we are routing via Nice cos Spain's shut, or that the reason we just descended was cos we did an accidental altitude bust (rather than having a swan stuck inside No1). (You know who you are)

A final grim thought: It will only take one or two copycat incidents before the travelling public at large start to accept the possibility of flying on pilotless aircraft.