View Full Version : Darling says "let there be marshals"

19th Dec 2002, 11:32
From the BBC(19/12):

"Armed undercover police are to be used on UK passenger flights, Transport Secretary Alastair Darling has announced.
The news came the day after a senior Whitehall source said there was a "high probability" that international terrorists would sooner or later launch an attack on the UK.

Mr Darling said the introduction of air marshalls followed a government decision earlier this year to reinforce in-flight security as part of the continuing review of aviation security following the 11 September attacks.

He stressed that although the threat to UK aviation remained "a real one", the new measure - following the example of Israel and Australia - had not been developed "in response to any new or specific intelligence".

A warning of a continuing threat from al-Qaeda - possibly targeting planes - was issued at a briefing for reporters on Wednesday.

In a statement, Mr Darling said: "That threat remains a real one, but this new capability has not been developed and is not being announced now in response to any new or specific intelligence.

"This further security measure joins others the Government has taken to increase security both on the ground at airports and in flight since the attacks in the USA."

Mr Darling said the government was "moving faster than the international community at large" to ensure UK aircraft were fitted with reinforced flight deck doors.

"Last month we acted to ensure that flight deck doors on foreign aircraft are kept locked, as they have been on UK aircraft since very soon after the US attacks.

"We have also placed strict limits on those able to be on the flight deck of UK aircraft."

Mr Darling's officials refused to say whether the government would insist airlines accept the air marshals or whether all flights would be covered. "We are not discussing the criteria at all," one told Reuters.

Officials believe the most likely form of an international terrorism attack is against the transport system such as planes or some form of unsophisticated chemical warfare, or using high-explosives in a conventional bomb.

Prime Minister Tony Blair also said on Wednesday that the threat posed by al-Qaeda terror group was "real and serious".

A government source confirmed that "small numbers" of al-Qaeda terrorists were operating in the UK.

An attack was "not inevitable" but such groups were extremely determined.

The government source said their understanding of the nature and character of al-Qaeda had improved.

The source said: "Al-Qaeda itself may in the next few years transform itself into something else, but the ideas behind it won't go away.

"My prediction is that we are in for a long haul.

"We cannot be optimistic that the short-term war on terror is going to remove them in the next couple of years.

"The sensible precaution for the nation is a sustained campaign to improve our national resilience."

Since 11 September, the government has stepped up searches on staff, passengers and their hand and hold baggage, vehicles, cargo and catering, with a particular emphasis on flights going to key destinations such as the USA.

The range of articles not allowed aboard aircraft has been added to and more funding has been channelled into airport policing."

19th Dec 2002, 12:06
Considering the record of gung-ho, hyped up, armed police elsewhere, this is something everyone should be scared of. They certainly should not be allowed anywhere near an aircraft!

19th Dec 2002, 12:14
And what happens if the Skymarshalls are overpowered? What happens when the terrorist threatens to kill a passenger unless he gets access to the cockpit? Quite a dilemma, one would imagine, for the crew in that regard...

19th Dec 2002, 12:38
okay..you lose one passenger to save potentially thousands..harsh choice but reality today..

19th Dec 2002, 12:44
What do the insurers say about providing adequate cover?

19th Dec 2002, 12:48
"We have also placed strict limits on those able to be on the flight deck of UK aircraft."

I read this on the BBC too. Could any informed people (ideally British airline pilots) shed any light on who exactly IS allowed on the FD other than the pilots?

GWYN - I don't at all agree with your post but you're entitled to speak your mind.


19th Dec 2002, 13:12
I look forward to the first compensation claim by a passenger who's been accidentally shot by a sky marshall :rolleyes:

Localiser Green
19th Dec 2002, 13:15
...assuming they live to tell the story :rolleyes:

19th Dec 2002, 13:22
Speaking from a point of virtually no knowledge of what actually does happen on a plane..

It does seem to me that this is the good old "More guns will make it better" school of thought. Adding additional guns to a situation isn't going to make it better in most cases. What we really, really, really need is tighter airport security. But adding armed guards to the aeroplanes does make for some exciting "getting tough of terrorism" headlines....... Simply annoying passengers with more thorough ID and clothing checks isn't going to curry many votes, is it? Or am I being excessively cynical?

I don't know how effective these guys would actually be. The terrorists will doubtless start to arrive mob-handed and then we'll need more marshals to protect a plane. It more-or-less assumes that the air-marshal isn't going to get himself killed (which is what is likely to happen if there is a 6-on-1 shootout!) and is going to realise and confirm what's happening before it's too late. Once the terrorist has burst onto the flightdeck, there is probably precious little anyone can do. It's not a movie, there is no script and virtually no rules. The terrorists are not that stupid, and will anticipate you being there. It's not going to be a turkey-shoot and it will never be obvious who the enemy actually is. Ununiformed people is an idea, but not foolproof. Terrorists will spot them easily be seeing who *doesn't* go through security? There would be powerfull arguments for sticking them in uniforms.

I suppose we have to do something, but if we do we want policemen, not soldiers, on those planes.

19th Dec 2002, 13:30
What does it mean by UK passenger flights? Does it mean those operated by UK based airlines or flights to/from the UK? Who will compensate the airlines for the lost seat revenue? What would be the total cost for the year. Given that the airlines are not convinced perhaps the Government should think again. I for one would be concerned about any weapons being onboard an aircraft.

Devils Advocate
19th Dec 2002, 13:43
That goes for me too brabzon….

Imho, this is just typical of the BS that this present British government puts out - very much "Let's look like we're doing something about it", but where their true focus is more concerned with getting re-elected than with actually doing things that have a real & positive effect….. ( so GordonBurford – above - you’re not being cynical )

Don't believe me ?

Well, in spite of all 'New Labours' pledges and promises to turn them around:

Crime's up – but there are less police being recruited
Taxes are up, albeit via indirect / stealth charges.
Transport policy is in turmoil.
Rail-fares are going up, but the service is being reduced.
House-prices are overheating the economy - but the government dare not do anything about it for fear of loosing votes.
Hospitals are still in crisis, with nurses leaving in droves, patients still on trolleys in corridors, and waiting lists as long as your arm.
Schools are still crisis, with teaches leaving in droves and there’s mayhem about exam standards.
Where PM's more often than not off trying to save the world and / or toady up to Bush, whilst back at home the UK's going to the dogs !

Etc etc etc; but where, according to government figures ( read: lies, damned lies, and statistics ! ), everything in the garden’s rosy !

Indeed can somebody please name me anything that's improved with them in power ?

...... and just to think that our hard-earnt taxes pay the wages of these government and civil service p****s….... shakes head in disbelief.

I somewhat digress ( but where the point is that this is all just ‘spin’ ! )

W.r.t. having a sky marshal onboard, ( and this point has already been made ) what if there are 10 terrorists ( freedom fighters ? ) on board – is one sky marshal gonna be able to stop them all ? I hope there’s plenty in the clip !

Now if I were Al-Qaeda terrorist Johnny ( which I’m not ), I’d just get hold of some SAM7 missiles ( I’ll bet that there are loads available on the black market ), park my self either on the take-off or landing path of a major international airport ( e.g LHR ) and launch one off at the first ElAl, BA, UA 777 or 747 that presented itself in my sights – there’d be little or no risk to me ( whereupon I’d live to fight my jihad another day ),…… so why bother trying to get onboard an airliner when it seems so much easier just to blow it out of the sky from a distance, e.g. as per what happened in Mombassa !

But what do I know, I’m just an airline pilot.

19th Dec 2002, 13:46
I'm watiting for the first Air Marshall to sue because they got DVT;)

19th Dec 2002, 13:49
This is the most idiotic suggestion I've ever heard. Previously, I felt it was the restriction on jumpseats, but this takes first prize! I dont want to share an aircraft with a gunman, whoever pays his salary! There is NO ROOM for guns on passenger carrying aircraft (and no quips about standing room and spam cans please!) if this goes ahead, I could not continue as a citizen of this country, I think I'll depart for saner climes, leaveing by rail,ship or possibly symbolically flying myself out. Apart from the obvious danger to other pax etc. etc. who picks up the consequences of firing at an idiot with a toy gun at 30,000ft ? Who pays for the seat? It's bound to cost increased taxes/fares etc. to whose benefit? It will either encourage the opposition to get more modern, hideable weapons, spot the cop, and shoot him first, together with its consequnces, OR the opposition is already rolling on the floor laughing, and singing, 'We won!, We Won!' . And you know what? He'll be right, he will have won. He will have succedded in making our life so miserable and full of ani terror rules, he can retire early in the safe knowledge that the legacy of his work will continue beyond his miserable lifetime .

19th Dec 2002, 14:14
I won't go on at length about this, but I really hope that it will be very clear which airlines allow guns on board and which do not. I for one will always choose the aircraft with no guns allowed whenever possible. From what I read this means non-UK, non-US, non-Aus airlines, so it looks like the Asian ones win here.

19th Dec 2002, 14:25
Re-iterating stallturn’s point – THERE IS NO ROOM FOR GUNS ON PASSENGER AIRCRAFT! This, if implemented, will create more problems than solutions. I would rather plough all the money needed for this project into additional security on the ground to ensure that guns never reach the immediate vicinity of an aircraft.

Still… If this does go ahead at least we’ll all be able to play ‘spot the sky marshall’ on flights from now on!

19th Dec 2002, 14:42
There are already officers of the British police trained as sky-marshalls (probably 2).

I find this very sad indeed for the points that have already been raised. Whats to stop the sky-marshall from hi-jacking the aircraft himself?

How many sky-marshalls will be needed on the A380?

Is only one skymarsh going to be on each flight they cover? I hardly see then being effective to take on 5-hi-jackers especially if they are suicde bombers!

Lots of the USA skymarshalls have already quit from boredom. Who on earth would want a the job of sitting on a a/c- just incase? Sounds like some thing the best people will apply for!

Sounds like another Labour lets be like the USA policy!

huw stunn
19th Dec 2002, 14:57
Geoff Want BA Director of Safety and Security has just issued this...

You may recall two week's ago some media coverage about the UK government's intention to deploy armed police officers onboard British aircraft.

Today, the government has made a formal announcement that it now has the capability, should it be warranted, to deploy specially trained armed police officers aboard UK civil aircraft.

We continue to have concerns about the presence and use of firearms on board our aircraft. We are working closely with the government to make sure its plans do not jeopardise onboard safety and to ensure that the correct procedures are in place should deployment be necessary.

Robust and excellent ground security is at the heart of achieving security in the air and we will continue to work extremely closely with airport authorities in implementing a range of security measures on the ground.

We recognise that the government feels it is necessary to have contingency plans to deploy armed officers onboard and we will continue to work closely with the authorities on all aspects of in-flight and ground security.


er....... so thats it then ! Roll over job

No Mode Charlie
19th Dec 2002, 15:22
Oh my god, they have gone mad completely now!

Why am I not allowed to take my dad for a flight on the jumpseat because of the secutity risk involved but at the same time I should trust a total stranger carrying a gun ??? How much sence does that make.

Do they really believe aviation is gonna be safer when, rather then increasing airport security and preventing guns to get on board, they are gonna put their own guns on board?

19th Dec 2002, 15:35
How will this guy get through security?

Will he/she have to take his shoes off for checking?

Can he/she carry a gun but no nail files?

In an airborne 'situation' - will he be able to over-ride the Captain when deciding on a course of action? Perhaps it will be shoot first - ask later.

I can't get through with nail scissors and I'm the Captain!

Does Mr Darling have the faintest idea what he is talking about?

(I know the answer to the last question!)

Roll on retirement!!!!!!!!!!!!

19th Dec 2002, 15:45
I can't get through with nail scissors and I'm the Captain!

Yes, but that's done to prevent you over-powering the 44-magnum armed sky marshal and fighting..your....way.......onto.........the.........flight. .............deck?


Maybe they just don't want you deciding to give yourself a foot manicure at 35,000ft?:D

Max Angle
19th Dec 2002, 16:36
Once the terrorist has burst onto the flightdeck, there is probably precious little anyone can do.
Of course now we have (or are just about to have in our company) locked, armoured doors the theory is that no one will be able to burst onto the flightdeck. That's the theory, in fact the door will still be opened from time to time in the air and it will still be possible for someone to force their way onto the flightdeck during that time. The BIG difference now is that nobody can then get him out again, all he needs to do is overpower whoever is left on the flightdeck and then he can relax, take his time, and select his target in peace while he listens to people trying in vain to break (and now shoot) the door down. Scary stuff.

In my opinion we are better off with a curtain across the flightdeck than a single armoured door. The only solution is the (very expensive, hence not going to happen) El Al solution of a double door system. This ensures that there is never an open path from the cabin to the cockpit.

19th Dec 2002, 16:54
And just when you thought things couldn't get any crazier...

security bill that became law late last month allows airline pilots to
carry weapons aloft, but the next step is not an easy one: Volunteers
must be recruited, training programs must be put in place and somebody
has to pay for it all. The new law stipulates that the training is to
begin by Feb. 25, but no funding is provided by Congress. Al Aitken,
spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, told the Associated Press
that he expects about 30,000 of the 100,000 airline pilots in the U.S.
will volunteer. Industry groups are now working with the government to
establish a training plan. One such proposal would consist of a five-
day, 48-hour course in which pilots would fire 2,000 rounds of
ammunition, and then participate in a simulated hijacking. Bulletproof
cockpit doors are due to be installed by April.

19th Dec 2002, 17:20
in my H.O. Darling is talking rubbish. This is all a bluff.

The UK armed Police is already massively overstretched, with the likes of SO19 and many county units working vast amounts of overtime just to keep those on the ground safe.

I am unaware of any basis in avaition law which dictates to an airline that thou shalt have an armed guard in one of thine paying seats. They are commercial companies working to the law and are unlikely to bend to a whim of the Government. Indeed, there are human rights issues here!

I like to think myself reasonably well connected in Police firearms circles and I haven't heard anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(retire to drawing room with large port and await men in black suits)

19th Dec 2002, 17:36
So let's assume that the government decides to place an armed policeman on your flight one day. He will somehow have to circumvent all the security without giving himself away to the hundreds of people who see him in the terminal. Or perhaps he will pull up at the aircraft side in an unmarked police car and run up the steps.

But surely he will have to declare himself to the crew? Imagine the scene if a cabin crew member caught a glimpse of his gun in its holster? Wouldn't his identity have to be made known to the flight crew? How will we feel knowing that there is a loaded gun on board?

He cannot therefore remain anonymous. The young girls will be chatting him up. He will be unduly familiar with the entire process and environment on board. Soon he will be bored and perhaps lose alertness, regardless of his professionalism. I like flying, but a long flight renders me zombie-like.

With all this in mind, I find it hard to imagine being prepared to operate a flight under these circumstances. I will step off the aeroplane, and tell the company to find someone else. I suspect I will not be alone.

Mister Geezer
19th Dec 2002, 17:38
A viewer's poll on Sky News that was done this afternoon was very interesting. Nearly 80% of those voted were in favour of Sky Marshals. Maybe this might bring back those travellers who have still been a bit edgy after 9/11. It would be good to see pax figures up but I, like many of you have concerns. I feel that this is a job for military personnel (obviously undercover!) and not the police. Maybe our friends at El Al could teach our guys a thing or two!

Jetstream Rider
19th Dec 2002, 18:09
So what happens if a 'sleeper' terrorist is recruited and trained as a marshall?

I know where I would be applying if I were a sleeper...

19th Dec 2002, 18:41
I wonder how a sky marshal would have coped with a plane load of lagered up Celtic supporters...

19th Dec 2002, 19:05
It's bad enough having to endure those idiots from ADI when we start work each day.
Now darling is going to give the brightest one of then ( ahem!) a gun and put him on my aircraft!

19th Dec 2002, 19:15
I wonder how a sky marshal would have coped with a plane load of lagered up Celtic supporters...

Stand there and admit to being a ranger? Maybe even chant "Rangers.....Rangers........Rangers....urrrgh"

I believe one scheme at the moment is for the S/M to carry the gun in his hand luggage, and there to be some secret signal that the gate & Security staff will nod the bag through. Which means the terrorists would have to allow him to get out of his seat, take the gun out of the bag... Point it at them....etc..

nah. Not happening, is it?

Devils Advocate
19th Dec 2002, 19:19
Err, and so what about private, corporate and freighter jets – they gonna put sky marshals on them too ?

After all, many of them are full-blown airliners, often operated from airports where little or no checks on their passengers and / or crew and / or freight are undertaken.

Indeed do you know how much one can procure an airworthy B727 freighter for ? It's buttons !

E.g. Given the kind of funds that they have access to Johnny terrorist could easily procure an old ( but large ) jet aircraft then, sight unseen in some remote foreign airfield, he / she could fill it with as much explosive and / or nerve gas and / or neurotoxin etc as the ageing leviathan can stagger into the air with (after all, it's gonna be a one-way trip ), they then stooge their way over to (say) London, release the chemicals over the city, before crashing their aeronautical chariot into (say) the House of Parliament / Buckingham Palace / Everton Football ground ( on a Saturday avo ) in well publicised blaze of glory.

Once again, this must surely be a far simpler proposition than trying to commander a passenger airliner – so what’s being done about it ?......... where the answer is, as we all know, stuff all !

But why is this so ?

Would it perchance be that it’s basically too difficult to police ( read, ‘expensive’ ) and / or that there are no votes to be had in it ?! :rolleyes:

19th Dec 2002, 20:25
It has been said but falls on deaf ears, "They have won." Now I must pay more taxes for no greater level of protection. They will not say how many and where, so we have no idea who these people are or what I am going to have to pay them.

It will be amusing to see what Tony Bush does when the sea port get hit (or whatever the next target is), rather than the aircraft.

19th Dec 2002, 20:47
Yeah, we could also go down the route of converting a petrol tanker into bomb, and all sorts of nasties. What security is to exist to stop someone just stealing an aircraft? Okay, so they've got to learn to take off as well but that might be easier than trying to deal with sky-marshals and passengers and so on. You can only go so far, and people will always find a way around you. That doesn't mean we should not do everything in our power to prevent these things happening. If we stop just one, it's worth it. But I think armed guards are the answer where the threat of hijacking is concerned. To be honest, I think this is all press spin. What's actually happened is that it's been agreed that where they KNOW a hijacking is going down, they'll supply armed officers who MIGHT travel on the plane. And from there we've got "armed guards... Plane....2+2=6...." What a headline for the newspapers and barstool generals everywhere think it's a wonderful idea and vote labour.....

What amazed me was the they questioned whether I could have a large key with me when I flew on a plane on 14/9/01 and they took the nail-file from a girl in front of me. But when i'd been through all the security at LHR, they sold me alcohol in a glass bottle... As much as I wanted.. And I stuck it in my hand luggage. I don't know about you guys, but if I had to choose between being attacked by someone with a nail-file and someone with a bottle with the bottom knocked out, i'd go for the manicurist!

19th Dec 2002, 21:37
The last thing we need is someone on an aeroplane with a gun
the general public may feel safer but what if the sky marshall is overpowered? what we need is a secure flight deck and better security before they get near a plane, the most worrying thing to me is the lunatic with a shoulder launched SAM now someones had a go at EL AL they will all get on the bandwaggon and gave a go and we dont have any control over that

Sven Sixtoo
19th Dec 2002, 21:40
Is not there a deterrent effect here?

A terrorist has a very hard time getting a gun on board these days. Remember the weapons used for 9/11. There is little doubt that a gun in the cockpit would have stopped the 9/11 terrorists in their tracks. It doesn't even take much training - the range is about 4 feet and the target is man-size. A revolver is 100% safe until you pick it up and the load can be adjusted to stop in the first body.

Therefore, if some airlines/nationalities announce that they have guns on board and others do not, which ones are going to get targeted? It's hardly rocket science.

Of course, as was suggested in an earlier post, the terrorists could resort to SA-7 or similar weapons "as at Mombasa". Three points arise. Firstly, while it is not entirely impossible to get hold of an SA-7, it's a lot more difficult than buying a Stanley knife. Second, the Mombasa attack failed. These weapons are obviously nothing like 100% successful. And thirdly, the consequenses of a successful Mombasa, while tragic, would have been vastly less than the 9/11 disaster.

The obvious point that arises from the above is that to defeat suicide terrorists requires guns in the cockpit (which is already a sealed area).

Sky marshals have the additional problem that when the guy with a gun stands up on the plane, my reaction as a passenger will be to bottle him with anything available (will a 3.5 kg laptop do?), take the gun off him and use it as I see best for my own survival. As anyone who appreciates my handle might understand, I'm actually quite experienced with guns and wouldn't have a problem blowing away any threat. I am also a professional pilot and appreciate that much of the "technical " objection to gunfire on board is actually bollocks. Aircraft are surprisingly robust. And I have flown home with bullet holes in the fuselage.

I suggest the way to go is obvious.


19th Dec 2002, 23:38
The problem is is that the government are 'spinning' a line. It is fairly obvious that there will only be a limited number of armed sky marshalls available (if any?) and the hope is that, as a number of you have already stated, you wouldn't want to board an aircraft with a loaded gun on board (albeit for slightly different reasons) which is what they hope any potential hijacker will think. It's a very limited deterrent.

It is obvious that they are not going to announce any numbers, routes or airlines that are going to have armed sky marshalls. Speculation is difficult but the thinking behind the decision to even announce the program seems to be that they (he?) will be deployed on 'high risk' routes. All that does is make the potential hijackers direct their efforts at the 'lower risk' routes and defeats the purpose.

At least on El Al you know that there are armed, and highly trained sky marshalls on EVERY flight and that's after being profiled before checking in. Unless the government are prepared to do more than pay lip service for the sake of a quick soundbite then most of us in the industry will remain sceptical and continue to point out the flaws in their decision making.

As with other 'cosmetic' approaches to security, we are fed silly 'packages' by the media that this new announcement of a limited number of armed sky marshalls being available is going to somehow cause a surge in trans-Atlantic traffic because passengers will somehow feel safer and more prepared to fly than before?! :confused:

As far as I am concerned, they either do the job properly or else stop interfering for the sake of a few votes. Unless the government are prepared to implement a much stricter regime of security, even before check-in then everything else is like trying to repair a heart attack with a plaster. We need serious profiling of passengers before check-in by governemnt employees who have access to sensitive intelligence information. The rest of the normal security we have will then act as a second line of defence. In my opinion far too much effort is being spent on 'appearing' to be doing something and does little to prevent a hijacker from getting on board. In this instance, an armed sky marshall would be a last line of defence.

Can you imagine how embarrasing it would be if there was another attempted hijack now but no sky marshall on board? Consider the odds of being on a flight that is hijacked, what are the odds of that flight will have a sky marshall on board even if there are 100 of them? I still think I've got a beter chance of winning the lottery. :rolleyes:

20th Dec 2002, 08:29
men in dark suits havent come yet, so here is another one:

What happens on a stopover, where the officer is not authorised to possess a personal weapon? Does he leave it in the A/C?

To me, a skymarshal has to be part of the crew. Fine, they can be a police officer or soldier, but I think they would have to be on something like a 3-4 year secondment, and cabin crew training would have to take into account actions and reactions on a threat being established.

And another thing - it is only in exceptional circumstances that we deploy armed police officers on their own. So thats TWO seats per a/c please.

Its funny, but common sense rarely prevails. Some forces are starting to cotton on to the idea of providing armed escorts to cash in transit to cut down on armed robberies. Didn't take a rocket scientist to work that one out.

Armed officers on aircraft are a good idea, but the manual will have to be about as thick as a Littlewoods catalogue, and embrace a fully thought out and integrated approach

20th Dec 2002, 14:32
We have to accept that "decisions" such as this are taken on the basis of whether the government can then appear to be "doing something" in the popular press, whether it will get the minister in the news, etc. Anything dressed up as "safety" is a surefire way to avoid criticism because they can then just say any critics oppose safety. Spending £1bn (of our money) makes the govt appear to be 10 times more safety conscious than spending £100m on it.

Whether it's a good, bad or downright lunatic idea is neither here nor there.

20th Dec 2002, 14:45
It's obvious that many of our armchair "experts" here have absolutely no idea of how the air marshall program works or the tactics involved. They do have a computer and know how to use it to display their ignorance.

20th Dec 2002, 14:55
It would be all too easy for unarmed terrorists to overcome an Air Marshall and then use his fire arm to take control of the ac, provided they can spot him/her.

Any fire arm in the cabin is extremely dangerous

I would have thought that, as many of the pilots in charge of civilian airliners will be ex-military, we could arm them instead. At least they are behind the secure cockpit door.

If terrorists new that they would be facing armed resistance from the cockpit, if they tried to take control, they might think twice (or more) about attempting it.

Fat Boy Sim
20th Dec 2002, 18:40
In the 'Mail' today by the transport editor is a harmless article about the proposal for sky marshals; that is until the fellow returns from lunch to finish it off.

Tony Blairs official spokesman said "These people will be specially trained. This is not taking a bobby off the beat and putting them on the airplane".

Like on El Al flights, marshals may use panic buttons in their seats to warn the flight deck of any trouble. If the pilot receives a warning signal they would roll and dive the aircraft to overbalance anyone standing. Oxygen masks would drop simultaneously to the sky marshals seat only, giving them an edge over a hijacker.

Presumably after rolling and diving the 'pilot' would then 'pull through' to assist in the 'overbalance' of anyone standing.

As a pilot of average ability, I think the only thing I would do after 'rolling and diving' would be to 'follow through'

22nd Dec 2002, 09:43
Well said Roadtrip

In the hysteria of this thread, the fact that these are highly trained police who are used to carrying arms seems to have been overlooked. Similarly they will only be deployed on specific flights. The Captain will be advised in advance iaw NASP.

We already carry armed police almost daily on UK aircraft when they are accompanying those people who are entitled to armed protection. They come and go with no fuss and the Captain is informed where they will be sitting. There have been no untoward occurences involving these APO's in the past 10 years on UK aircraft.

As stated earlier, they have their own constabulary powers which are outside the ANO. The Captain is only responsible for the safety of the aircraft and the passengers.

Merry Christmas all


22nd Dec 2002, 11:00
Primacy lies with the captain

full stop. bottom line.

Problems also arise with jurisdiction. This is the case on seaborne vessels as well. However the dictat of reasonable force will always apply.

Personal protection officers are there for an entirely different set of circumstances than what we are talking about here. They are also trained for an entirely different set of circumstances.

The reason you havbe had no problems with carriage of PPO's is that the whole idea is that they are discrete. Even if something kicked off in general terms, it is extremely unlikely the officer would intervene, save for a direct threat to their charge. For example, the Celtic supporter problem - wouldn't have even raised an eyebrow.

Bottom line with all of this is, if we are going to do it properly, it is going to cost billions. The governments of this world on the whole are unwilling to invest, and forthe airlines to do it would push the cost of air travel to prohibitive levels.

There will be another atrocity. That is the way of the world

22nd Dec 2002, 11:11
The fact that no-one has accidentally disacharged a firearm on a UK aircraft to date is almost certainly due to the small number of people who have actually been involved. Close Protection personnel unload there firearms before boarding (in the VERY rare circumstances that they actually carry them abroad). This would not be the case with sky marshals. As someone who spent 20 years of his life carrying firearms on a daily basis, and training others to use them, I know that the reality is that the longer the time since you let a round off accidentally, the nearer it is to the next one! I know of a number of highly trained police firearms officers in the UK who have accidentally shot themselves, inanimate objects and each other due to brain-fade. (At least 2 of these incidents were at an airport.) Most ex-military specialists now working as professional bodyguards will also admit privately to having at least one 'ND' in their careers too. Sky Marshals in the US have an excellent record though, but have had the advantage of developing in an environment where handgun training has been carried out from an early stage in their careers. The policemen that Darling is proposing to do this job haven't!

There is no magic cure for the problems of terrorists on aircraft. By far the best option is to stop them getting aboard in the first place, but this is never going to be the waterproof option. Having actually trained in mock-up aircraft I know how difficult it is to avoid a 'shoot-through' and there would probably be 'good-guy' casualties (although not as many as in a suicide attack designed to bring an aircraft down). The problem about frangible ammunition, such as the Glaser Safety Slug, is that it has weaknesses and is not the 'magic bullet' that the media suggests. I suspect that if a serious risk assessment was acrried out, it would result in the discovery that there would be more civilian casualties from accidents from armed marshals than from preventable on-board terrorist activities. In reality I think this announcement is nothing more then 'spin' to take the heat off the government at a difficult time.

22nd Dec 2002, 11:13
Sorry if this has been mentioned before, but PPO's {Special Branch} already carry guns on board UK registered aircraft in certain circumstances and I haven't heard any complaints before.

22nd Dec 2002, 11:26
I cannot see a 6'4" copper being on our flights, he wouldn't be able to get out of the seat in a hurry and would be suffering from DVT in a week; although I have heard that they only travel in First Class.

Notso Fantastic
22nd Dec 2002, 12:43
Stallturn, I really can't believe this:
<This is the most idiotic suggestion I've ever heard. Previously, I felt it was the restriction on jumpseats, but this takes first prize! I dont want to share an aircraft with a gunman, whoever pays his salary! There is NO ROOM for guns on passenger carrying aircraft>

Some of the comments in this thread seem to be detached from reality and recent history. The point about Air Marshalls is nobody will know if there are none, one, or two on board. Anything you put in place to thwart such a hijacking will help you. The uncertainty will help. I would rather have shooting in the cabin than my planeload of 400 passengers commanded with not much resistance when the flight deck gets invaded whilst coffee is being delivered! Then we will be 400 dead people (plus more on the target)!

El Al have a long history of Air Marshalls satisfactorily concluding hijack attempts when their profiling has otherwise failed to prevent the individuals boarding. Once they are on, getting through a locked door is not difficult. On one day, 4 out of 4 attempts succeeded with loss of all onboard (and some 2500 not on board). Wake up, the world has changed! How many flights with Air Marshalls on board that have been interfered with have ended up worse as a result of the Air Marshalls being aboard? Zero. How many flights interfered with with Air Marshalls aboard have ended up better as a result of their presence- all of them as far as I am aware. Profiling cannot stop dedicated long term terrorists. Weapons can be fabricated. Getting through flight deck door security is not difficult. Once through that door you have an aeroplane of dead people- the pilots have certainly been denuded of everything with which to defend themselves (even nail clippers) as a last resort. What possible justification can there be for not having Air Marshalls. Don't think of what you think the problems may be . Thing instead of the record of success of Air Marshalls.

Let's face it, a small terrorist group had incredible success on a one shot operation. That they haven't succeeded again is because they haven't tried again. I reckon I could succeed against any airline except El Al because of their security. We need to understand why and appreciate the lesson. Trouble is, there are far too many 'shoot from the hip' uninformed opinions in Pprune about any subject under the sun, and frankly looking at some of the profiles of the people volubly expressing opinions in this thread, they know nowt about zilch and would be better off letting the experts handle a very difficult security situation in the way they know better!

22nd Dec 2002, 17:00

Having seen your profile I thought you would know that the ANO is quite specific on this subject.

You go on to say:
The reason you havbe had no problems with carriage of PPO's is that the whole idea is that they are discrete.

......and the armed police officers will also be discrete; that is the whole idea!

Cat S
Although I agree with much that you say, you are mistaken in your knowledge of the APO's operating methods which are clearly defined in the DfT NASP

Anne :)

22nd Dec 2002, 21:43
Anne, Please remember you are dealing with a thick copper here and not a graduate level jet jockey. The ANO is in the public domain, some of the stuff I am dealing with isnt and subject to PII, although



There is however a whole other big fat book which deals with PPO work. For some strange reason they haven't posted this on the web.

Give me a clue as to which specific article of the ANO you are talking about. PM if necessary. SOooometimes I need leading to the water.

like Ah say. just a cop, doin mah job

Notso Fantastic
23rd Dec 2002, 07:57
Well in the last few weeks, 'thick coppers' with guns have satisfactoritly concluded:
1. An El Al 'incident' into Turkey
2. A Royal Jordanian 'incident' into AUH

I think it quite reasonable to conclude that both these incidents would have been far more serious and inconvenient without the Sky Marshalls presence. There seems to be a horror from some on Pprune of "I don't want guns blazing on my aeroplane!". Let's think about this- these Sky Marshalls are well trained not to discharge their weapons without good cause. It would be because hijackers either have guns or other serious weaponry already . If so, you are already likely to be walking dead soon unless the Sky Marshall stops them, so as far as I am concerned, "Welcome Aboard, S. M! And don't refrain from drilling as many holes in skyjackers as you like because I know what the alternative is!"

23rd Dec 2002, 13:33
I'll take that as a vote of confidence/thanks then!

I went away and re read my side of the wall stuff, and the ANO references, and still fail to see what a PPO carrying a gun on an A/C ( basically cos he/she will need it at the other end) and skymarshalls have to do with each other.

Totally different ball game

23rd Dec 2002, 20:20

PM sent. The reference is the ANO 2000 Part 5 Article 67which I believe is still extant

It reads:

Every person in an aircraft shall obey all lawful commands which the commander of that aircraft may give for the purpose of securing the safety of the aircraft and of persons or property carried therein, or the safety , efficiency or regularity of air navigation.

Anne :)

23rd Dec 2002, 22:34
Why have Pilots been Security Searched before having access to their aircraft . How many times have you ( or a colleague) thought What a waste of time ; I'm hardly likely to hijack my own aircraft .

In 1974 , G-ASGO , a BOAC operated VC10 , was hijacked in ??Dubai ; it ended up in Amsterdam where it was set on fire and substancially destroyed . My recollection is that the necessary weapons were brought aboard in Dubai by the Cleaners who had hidden the guns in their Hoovers ; and that they did this not because they were part of the original Team , but because they had been Got At by threats to their families . They simply did what they had been told to do to protect their wives and children . It was only because they were not searched - and were known not to be searched - before having access to the aircraft this strategy was possible .

Whether this is precicely true or not ( does anyone remember) is not important ; but it does illustrate the potential vulnerability of all Flight Crew to such coercion : what would You do if , say , your children had been kidnapped and the only way ( you were told) to see them again was to get a weapon on board your next flight . That would certainly be a tough one to call , but the defence to the possibility is simply to have all Crew properly searched , which is why it is done . No-one actually thinks that you are going to hijack your own aircraft , but it is recognised that might be forced into helping someone else do so . So the more public and more thorough the Searching , the better , as it shows the world that such an approach is unlikely to succeed ( and this seems to have worked)

I suspect that , then , that the carriage of Sky Marshals , who will have spouses / partners / children / parents , any or all of whom they will feel a strong need to protect , and whose exact movements will not be too hard to establish , and who will be carrying weapons onto aircraft as part of their their job actually introduces more vulnerabilty than protection .

I wonder how EL AL et al manage this problem , and how it is thought that it will be overcome on UK aircraft .

Notso Fantastic
23rd Dec 2002, 22:55
You're dreaming up problems with Sky Marshalls and ignoring their long history (unblemished I think) of success in preventing situations developing onboard!

24th Dec 2002, 22:20

Since September 11th, Sky Marshalls are prevalent on most flights within the U.S. The only difference is the travelling public doesn't know it. They usually travel in groups of two or more and the only think they want for the most point is some decent food.

While they prefer to sit in first class, depending on occupancy, they might wel be in coach and that's the beauty of the whole program. If the terrorists don't know where they are, the Marshalls are already one step ahead of the game.

I'll say nothing further apart from Merry Xmas to all.


27th Dec 2002, 13:39
Well yes , you can say that Sky Marshalls have worked , and have not been used/abused by being Got At . I would add "So Far" .

Having a small community of elite/select individuals makes things more manageable , but once you have large numbers of them , all needing Rostering , Training , Checking , Administering etc it will become impossible to keep 'confidential' who they are and which flights they are assigned to.

And if the whole scenario does seem too far fetched ( which I agree it might) : first , you are not trying to stay a step ahead of fools and idiots, but , as we have seen , intelligent and resourceful people with ambition and vision (well , enough of them to matter) . Secondly ; we spend many happy hours in the Sim thinking about Emergrency Electrical Configuration , Double Hydraulic Failures and so on . Even though the chances of these actually happening are 10 to the minus quite a lot we don't call that Dreaming up Problems with the Aeroplane , we learn how to deal with it .

You cannot argue that if something unlikely hasn't happened yet , it won't . Risk assessment requires more analysis than that .

In passing , allowing Pilots to carry guns onto their Flight Decks re-introduces the risk of being Got At on their Days Off not only to they themselves but to all other pilots that are identified with them , that is , all the Pilots who no longer must go through an effective Security Screening .

Are we happy with that ??

27th Dec 2002, 20:03

I'm very surprised at his statement:

"you are not trying to stay a step ahead of fools and idiots, but , as we have seen , intelligent and resourceful people with ambition and vision (well , enough of them to matter)"

Are you trying to say if Sky Marshalls had been on any of those awful September fights, the results and outcome would not be different?

Let me tell you, if Sky Marshalls were on board each and every one of those flights, there would be no September 11th...Unfortunately, they weren't.


I. M. Esperto
1st Jan 2003, 19:16
I flew with them in the '70's, and was pleased to have them aboard.

These were hand selected men, many from a surplus in the Secret Service.