View Full Version : American Airlines Pilot Arrested in OMA for Ax Comment

6th Mar 2003, 05:38
Another in a continuing series...


Pilot Kicked Off Omaha Plane Will Not Face Federal Charges
'I Have An Ax,' Pilot Allegedly Says

POSTED: 12:54 p.m. EST March 5, 2003
UPDATED: 5:40 p.m. EST March 5, 2003

OMAHA -- The American Airlines pilot arrested and detained at Omaha's Eppley Airfield on Wednesday will not face federal charges, the FBI told an Omaha television station.

Police boarded the pilot's plane to take him into custody after a security officer reported the pilot saying, "I have an ax in the cockpit and could chop your head off," said city prosecutor Marty Conboy.

Conboy said he was not aware of the pilot displaying an actual weapon.

The pilot was arrested and taken into custody around 8 a.m. He was scheduled to fly passengers from Omaha to St. Louis aboard an 8:15 a.m. American Airlines flight.

The flight took off with another pilot who had been on layover after a 90-minute delay; 112 passengers were on board.

One of the passengers, Scott Terry, said airline officials made an announcement that the flight would possibly be canceled.

At the end of their shift, airport security personnel met about the incident. The threat, Omaha's KETV-TV reports, was directed at a particular security officer.

"There was never any suggestion the public, passengers or planes were in any danger or threatened," Conboy said.

Conboy said he was still looking into the tone and context of the comment to decide whether he will press charges against the pilot.

"You'd think a pilot would certainly realize the people working at those security points are on their side -- watching their back," Conboy said.

Conboy said he would decide within the next 30 days whether the pilot will face charges.

If convicted of disorderly conduct, the pilot could face six months in jail and a $500 fine.

After questioning, the pilot was released.


6th Mar 2003, 06:04
Land of the free and Home of the brave.

6th Mar 2003, 06:48
Discretion is the better part of valor, the TSA folks have enough on their plate, silly comments are not required..:yuk:

6th Mar 2003, 07:11
Doesn't it make you want to weep. Truly the land of the neurotics. What can one say ?

Devils Advocate
6th Mar 2003, 07:47
How about, when homeward bound and transiting from airside to landside, you bring the axe with you from the cockpit, paying a visit to the 'security' check point along the way, to help show the 'security' folks the total futility of taking tweezers, nail scissors, Gerber MultiTools, etc. from us when we're outbound to the aircraft ?

Uhm, now there's a question, if when airside I was to take the axe off the flightdeck, then go landside with it through security - showing the security folks the axe as I did so - veritably "Hey look what I've got !" - but once landside I do an immediate 180 and then try and go back airside, to replace the said same axe on the flightdeck, would they let me through ?

Talk about stupid and ill-conceived rules !

Stood Down
6th Mar 2003, 07:55
"You'd think a pilot would certainly realize the people working at those security points are on their side -- watching their back," Conboy said.

That's a joke! Anyone who regularly goes through airport security will know that airline staff are deliberately obstructed and humiliated. Very frustrating but not worth making any comment to the megalomaniac with the detector.

6th Mar 2003, 09:09
As I have posted on another thread, You can purchase a full sized swiss army knite w/4" blade in the kiosk just before you board your aircraft at Geneva. The Swiss flat refuse to change their policy as it will hurt one of their home grown businesses. Makes a mockery of the whole system.:mad:

6th Mar 2003, 09:14
If they put a metal detcetor anywhere near my feet the plastic would melt.

6th Mar 2003, 16:56
"Security staff watching our backs.."

More likely to stab you in the back for daring to speak back at them. Sad to stay but although we have some good staff in Europe there are many who have let this new found power go to their heads.

It is frustrating and humiliating to be constantly searched and swept day after after day when you are Captain of the aircraft. And yes it is true at Zurich they are still selling pen knives in the departure area but I seem to remember that there is a second security check before the gates.

6th Mar 2003, 18:55
It doesn't just happen to pilots.

One of the sad consequences of 9/11 is the regular occurence of incidents where 'security ' personel ( right down to shop assitants,) use their new found power to resolve personality clashes by invoking 'procedure.'

If this continues the result will be a PC (and boring) population cowed into frustrated silence but with frequent outbursts of violence toward, often innocent, security employees. Inevitably it will be the victims who will be prosecuted, not the bullies. Nothing changes.

In similar vein discussing, or even joking about, fire in a crowded theatre is not the same as standing up and shouting "FIRE" but our newly promoted arbiters of 'safety' do not seem to appreciate the difference, hence the sight of pensioners being hustled and manhandled from boarding lounges for "inappropriate' remarks.

7th Mar 2003, 04:52
Here's a fairly balanced update article:

Published Thursday
March 6, 2003

Incident is sign of pilots' frustration



Pilot's comments cause stir at Eppley

Whether remarks by an American Airlines pilot that led to his arrest Wednesday at Eppley Airfield constituted a threat to a security officer is something that will be decided by the legal system.

But there is one point beyond dispute: Pilots and their crews are extremely frustrated that they are subjected to the same level of searches, probing and other security measures that any airline passenger is.

"They don't want to be screened, and that's part of the issue," said Don Smithey, Eppley's chief administrator. "That's been pretty public ever since there's been screening."

That frustration may well be a key issue behind what transpired at the federal Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Eppley, said Marty Conboy, Omaha city prosecutor.

The pilot, 36-year-old Kent A. Raney of suburban St. Louis, had passed through the checkpoint, but members of his flight crew were still being searched.

It was just over a half-hour before the flight's scheduled departure, meaning the crew was probably running late, Smithey said.

Raney became upset over the screening process and made comments to federal security screeners.

He then asked an Eppley police officer who was manning the checkpoint to accompany him to the cockpit so he could show the officer something. The officer declined.

Conboy said Raney then told the officer he had an ax in the cockpit and could chop off the officer's head if he wanted to. That was the comment that ultimately led to the pilot being detained and ticketed for disorderly conduct.

Conboy said he will decide by next week whether Raney's words and actions were worthy of a disorderly conduct charge.

One of his considerations will be whether Raney intended to threaten the officer or was just making a point about the irony that the flight crew was being searched when it has access to a fire ax in the cockpit.

"Whether that was a threat or just a statement, I don't know," Conboy said. "For two employees in any other business, this probably never would have seen the light of day. But this is a very serious business."

Indeed, even if such a statement was made in frustration, Smithey said, it was bound to create problems, given the level of security around airports these days.

"If anyone made that remark around the checkpoint, something had to be done," he said.

Smithey said there has been talk in Washington about creating special badges for flight crews and subjecting them to a different level of security. But the Transportation Security Administration has declined to do so, saying its mandate from Congress is to screen everyone.

The issue could come to a head soon, now that pilots by congressional mandate will be authorized to carry firearms.

Even if the pilot was frustrated with the current security policies for flight crews, the screeners in Omaha were just doing their jobs, Smithey said.

"The federal rules are the federal rules," Smithey said. "If he has a problem, it can't be resolved in Omaha."

7th Mar 2003, 05:10
The inmates are running the insane asylum…this has all to do about Government control and the loss of everyone’s personal freedoms.

When is the general public going to wake up and realize what’s going on?

Me thinks to late…

B Sousa
7th Mar 2003, 13:41
Travel has certainly become a mess. Pilots should by now know, that any comment towards the TSA folks is going to backfire. Its best to keep your comments until your having a Beer at the hotel. Even that today may cause problems.
For the most part Uncle Sugar has hired those folks that previously couldnt find a job. They now not only have a job with ultimate authority. The pay is good and it has the full backing of the Government with Benefits. Some of these folks even speak understandable English.
Even worse I now find that I cant even lock my bags so that the TSA folks can search them where I cant observe. Its Carte Blanche to steal anything they want or allow baggage handlers to do so anywhere along the trip.
Its no wonder that Corporate Jet Sales and Charters are going full speed. They have none of these problems unless they use a Commercial Gate.

7th Mar 2003, 18:21
Like Tan said "The inmates are running the insane asylum…". Very recently my fleet manager and one of our training captains were going out to the aircraft to do a training flight, at the check point the security guard would not let them through because they were in civies( They had all the valid IDs and security clearances). The guard said that since they were not in uniform they could'nt go pass the check point. When asked why other airline employees could go through and not them they were told that those were passanger service employees and not pilots and as such need not wear uniforms. When asked why they should be in uniform were told that recently a person impersonating a Continental Airlines pilot tried to jump seat on World Airways but was found out,so all pilots had to be in uniform. This person was in uniform with a fake ID. When this was brought the guards attention he said that if you are a pilot you should dress like one, my boss said that if he went home and dressed would they let him through. The guard said "yes" . Shows that if you have all the requirements but dont "look the part" you are in trouble. By the way, since I joined my company 26yrs ago it has been our policy that we train in civilian clothes, since when do you have to look the part to be a pilot, thought a valid ID,company, airports authority and licence were good enough. Since 9/11 I've gotten the feeling that the security personel have taken great delight in putting airline staff in their "place". Yes I do have a crash axe and other stuff that I wouldn't be allowed through security. In other word I can cut off my fingers but not trim my nails.:)

Semaphore Sam
7th Mar 2003, 21:55
Maybe an answer is 'passive resistance'. When an arbitrary, intrusive 'request' is made, go the extra mile; if one's belt, shoes, etc. are taken, just keep going, and strip down to skivvies, or more (only when really unreasonable 'requests' are made). A few such responses might have a salutary effect. Confrontation never works; extreme compliance just might. Who's first?

Ignition Override
8th Mar 2003, 03:57
I don't know the spelling of the word in Arabic, but I've said "shokran" to at least two TSA employees, and then ask them if they know what it means. After the blank stare I tell them that it means "thank you" in Arabic.

If they plan to outlaw any languages and basic facts about the many sharp metallic pieces of equipment which are in the so-called "secure" airport areas, then it should also be posted on a sign, along with the warning: "No contradictions are allowed to be pointed out, whether ironic or not, by any uniformed crewmember, or anyone else".

To repeat from previous Pprune topics, if I watch a two-hour video on crewbase airport security, followed by a background check, they will issue me a local ID badge, with which I can bypass all x-ray machines here, and (physically, not legally) bring any metallic object into the airport's "secure areas". Why do the Dilberts at the FAA/TSA think they if we can fly.... There must be some very clever and effective policies and procedures demonstrated in the video which we are not already aware of, such as "don't ever step in front of a baggage tug, or let anyone walk around without the 'green' or 'blue' badge. And if anyone has a weapon on them or looks suspiscious, report them to the authorities.

Boy, I sure hope they explain this to the flightcrews. If we also have a problem figuring out how to start the engines or taxiing to the runway, can the other ramp employees help us?:=

8th Mar 2003, 04:00
The police officer who boarded the AA flight and 'confiscated' the crash axe could also be prosecuted. Removing ANY required safety equipment from a passenger jet in the US (Federal Air Regulations, Part 121) is ALSO a felony, punishable by jail and steep fines.

What a bunch of idiots these TSA staffers are; if we have to rely on them to catch the next wave of terrorists, we're doomed. Europe has MUCH better screeners, and they're MUCH more professional.

8th Mar 2003, 07:21
Semaphore Sam is onto something

I regularly go through the same checkpoint. I always used to have to dig in my bag and bring out the shaving foam everytime they spotted it on the X-ray.

Once they saw the can they used to say "OK you can take it"

I could never figure out what they coould gain by looking at the can that did not come up on the X-ray (other than to p*ss me off by having to open my bag)

I tried extreme compliance and everytime they asked me to show them the can I insited on showing them it REALLY was shaving foam. That is, I sprayed a big pile of it all over their desk and thanked them for being so through in checking my bag.

I am now rarely asked to physically remove the can from my bag:} :)

8th Mar 2003, 16:54
The police officer who boarded the AA flight and 'confiscated' the crash axe could also be prosecuted.As I read it, the officer declined the invitation to the cockpit, but arrested the pilot at security after hearing the 'threat'. Sounds like an extreme case of willy-waving :*

Final 3 Greens
8th Mar 2003, 18:47
As I have posted on another thread, You can purchase a full sized swiss army knite w/4" blade in the kiosk just before you board your aircraft at Geneva

This is true. I bought one a couple of weeks ago and brought it back in the cabin with BA to London.

Strangely enough, I didn't feel the urge to hijack the flight, attack the CC or my fellow pax.

Obviously I'm in the minority the way security is ramped up these days..... best go and get some counselling ;)

8th Mar 2003, 19:37
Actually, according to one of our AA internal websites, the Captain was thru security, came back to find out why his F/O and one of his cabincrew were being held up ('harrassed'), then made the comment "WE have a crash axe, why would you worry about a nail-clipper?", NOT what the media (and the security idiot) said. Then, the security weenie told a police officer, who then went to the aircraft, boarded it, took the Captain into custody, and confiscated the crash axe. That is the real story, and thankfully, AA is backing up their crewmembers on this. My point was NO police officer has the authority to remove required safety equipment from an aircraft. Its a case of STATE or CITY police breaking FEDERAL law.

8th Mar 2003, 20:26
Only going by what's available to me, but if the officer did nick the axe then he should be in deep sh!t :* :*

Isn't it part of the MEL ?

9th Mar 2003, 18:29
Smithey said there has been talk in Washington about creating special badges for flight crews and subjecting them to a different level of security. But the Transportation Security Administration has declined to do so, saying its mandate from Congress is to screen everyone.

That statement is a lie, since they are not required to screen any other employees than flight crew. It's all part of the "Greatest Security Show on Earth!"

Of course we are getting frustrated by the screening of flight crews. We have been frustrated since long before 9/11. There is no logic in it. We are the only employee group that doesn't need a weapon to take over the airplane, yet we are the only group that gets screened. It goes back to 1987 when a recently terminated USAir CSA named David Burke used his unsurrendered ID card to access airside in LAX with a 44 magnum. He boarded PSA flight 1771 as a revenue passenger. The supervisor that terminated him was on the airplane (Burke knew that he'd be on it), so shortly after takeoff, Mr. Burke shot his ex boss, both pilots and himself. The airplane broke up over Paso Robles as it went transonic. In the hue and cry for better security following this heinous crime, a few changes were made. ID's had to be surrendered upon termination, SIDA employees had to undergo "security" training (which amounted to a longer videotape than before), and flight crews were then required to submit to passenger screening.

Ground ops types, of which Mr. Burke was a member, are not required to submit to passenger screening.

9th Mar 2003, 19:01
We're living in the book "Catch-22," boys. We'll all be hopping on one leg and singing the Star Spangled Banner to gain cockpit access soon enough.

9th Mar 2003, 19:24
Disarm them with a smile. Make it as sincere as possible. You get paid a lot more than them and you have a girlfriend. They're just human. Losers, but human.