View Full Version : Oops! I thought the safety was on!

11th May 2003, 06:27
How long do you think it will take before someone accidently gets shot in the cockpit or leg or somewhere else?

11th May 2003, 08:50
Gettin' shot in the cockpit would probably hurt like hell. ;)

11th May 2003, 09:57
A gun is just a tool.

Onan the Clumsy
11th May 2003, 12:05
It'll probably happen eventually.

11th May 2003, 12:40
It will certainly happen, and not so eventually for the victim.

When lots of people have guns, someone always gets shot.

11th May 2003, 13:01
Is that not the purpose of having guns? At least then only a few folks get killed.....pilot error at the controls kills hundreds at a whack every now and then.

11th May 2003, 13:47
When lots of people have guns, someone always gets shot.

Nothing like a sweeping generalization to prove a point. Ignore the major threat and focus on the one percent probability. How many accidental discharges from a cops gun every year COMPARED to the total number of cops on the job 24/7. NOW I know that if the number is high you boys will find it and throw it at me. Go Get It!

While you are worrying about some pilot shooting his F/O the terrorist is boarding the plane and accessing the panel in seat 20E where he finds the ceramic pistol hidden by the ground crew that even pilots agree is not properly screened. Plane in the air at 35000 feet is now a air to surface bomb. Hmmmm where have I heard this scenario before. Not in London, hmmmmmmmm but where? Keep you head in the sand boys, worry about the one percent while the 99 percent kills 2800 plus people. Thats alright, you can protest in safety, France has done so much for the Iraqi's that they don't have to worry about attack, my sources say that the targets with the highest risk are all on OUR side of the pond, so you can afford to gripe, it's not really your problem is it?

11th May 2003, 14:46
It may be a generalisation, but you gotta admit is 100% correct.

How many accidental discharges from a cops gun every year COMPARED to the total number of cops on the job 24/7

Ooops (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3017483.stm)
A royal protection officer accidentally fired a shot inside the Duke of York's residence while he was in a room nearby, it has emerged

And these Royal protection fellows are trained to a far higher standard than any US cop.

Damned fine fellows too. I met one of them when taking a short cut across Hyde Park at 2am one morning. Silly old me was a bit intoxicated and hopped over the wrong wall into the grounds of Kensington Palace when Lady Di was at home. Got 20 yds before a very nice policeman popped out from behind a tree and apprehended me. Charming fellow, had a big bulge in his jacket too, wouldn't tell me what it was either - but I think I know. He just kicked me back out onto Bayswater.

One weeks training isn't nearly enough. Kick out the co-pilot, train an armed cop to be a PPL, and put him in the RHS. He can guard the cockpit, help with the radios, and shoot the skipper if it looks like he's going to fly it into the ground.

Anthony Carn
11th May 2003, 19:12
There must be nothing worse than an accidental discharge in your cockpit.......:uhoh:

11th May 2003, 19:24
Couldn't happen at all...famous last words.

May 1997:

Turkish Airlines yesterday fired two pilots for fighting in the cockpit of a jetliner as it cruised at 11,000ft with 240 passengers on board.

The fist fight broke out when pilot Altan Tezcan and co-pilot Erdogan Gecim had a dispute over altitude data during an Airbus 340 flight from Bangkok to Istanbul last month. The two pilots were immediately suspended while an investigation was held.

A newspaper quoted Gecim as telling Tezcan: "Are you deaf? He's telling you something and you are doing something completely different."

The paper said Gecim then rapped Tezcan's knuckles as he tried to programme the data into the auto-pilot. The pair then untied their seatbelts for a fight, which was only ended with the intervention of other staff.

Now throw a gun in for good measure. :sad:

11th May 2003, 19:51
Having been the victim of an accidental discharge of a firearm I can assure you it does happen.

Accidental or not its extremely dangerous and very painful, I am very glad I live in a country where the majority of people have no interest in carrying firearms.

11th May 2003, 23:01
There is a significant difference between a cop on 24/7 and some pilot with a gun that he learned to use last week. Rookie police are usually posted with an experienced fellow to keep them out of harms way. Not so with these chaps. Learning to hit a target is very different from learning to maintain your cool and shoot a person whilst not blowing a hole in the aircraft or some other hapless slf. I do not slight the training the pilots had just the overall scheme. A very high percentage of folks here in the U.S. that obtain handguns and attempt to use them against a bad guy have the gun taken away because they hesitate. They are not professional criminals or trained policemen. They become victims.

Also having a gun close at hand gives many people the courage to elevate a harmless situation into one where they can threaten someone else with thier gun. Many, many senseless acts of gun violence start in this way.

If you want to "Go Ahead and Make Someone's Day" maybe you should consider another choice in your vocation. How about becoming an Air Marshall? :ok:

12th May 2003, 02:23
The only people I am happy being around when they are carrying a handgun are those people who handle them regulary, and preferably have been handling them regularly for all their lives.

So your cowboy from some ranch in Montana who grew up with guns is probably OK. They respect and understand guns, and know what they can do. Interestingly enough, this sort of person would probably not want to carry a gun in a cockpit, he knows it is a silly thing to do.

You cannot take some guy from a city, give him a week long training course, and let him carry a handgun in a cockpit. It's a recipe for disaster. I don't think it's got anything to do with defending the cockpit, they just want to carry a gun at work. Now I'm starting to wonder about the size of their underpants, they must only have extra small in their flight bag. :)The psychological tests need to be seriously toughened, but then you would get the NRA gun nuts saying that is un-constitutional.

12th May 2003, 11:16
Pilots in the USA carried firearms on the flight deck all the way up to 1987, and the were REQUIRED to carry them untill the mid fifties.

There was never an accidental discharge, but one attempted hijacking was prevented in the 50s when an AA captain shot and killed an armed hijacker.

So what has changed today? A gun is a tool, and a far simpler tool than an airplane. If you can't trust someone with a gun, then he CERTAINLY shouldn't be operating an aircraft.


13th May 2003, 20:31
Years ago before I became the down-and-out bar fly I am now I was a well trained soldier. I was very used to handling firearms and held a UK Home Office firearms licence.

After a long operation I returned to base very tired and had a negligent discharge whilst making safe (i.e. unloading) a HK 53. I missed my oppo by a foot or so. He was, understandably, quite miffed at the time.

At the time I was very current in weapons handling and marksmanship and it still happened. After the investigation by the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police I was found half guilty in that the weapon was faulty but the drills I should have completed would have captured this fault and it would and should have resulted in no round expended had I done it properly :O

I didn't take enough care over my unloading drill and cocked it up.

Admittedly the weapon in question is far more powerful than the average 9mm and 0.45 inch revolver, but the principle is the same.

Can't offer a comment as to whether cockpits should be equipped in such a fashion, because I am not an ATPL.


14th May 2003, 01:43
Some stats from the US National Safety Council for deaths in the USA due to firearms in 1999 (latest available). At:

Accidental discharge: 824
Suicide: 16,599
Undetermined intent: 324
Homicide: 10.828
Legal intervention: 299

So I would say the people in most danger are the pilots themselves. At least if they have a gun they might not take the rest of the plane full of people with them :\

14th May 2003, 02:27

Not having at ATP just means you have no opinion on whether the crosswind is too high to land a 737. Sounds to me like you have more right to an opinion on whether guns should be allowed in cockpits than most ATPs. Besides, as Pax we all have a right to say whether our pilot is allowed to bring a firearm on an aircraft.


As an airline pilot you should be the first to know that "just because it's never happened in the past it won't happen in the future" is a crass way to look at safety. Better to think "if it can happen, it will".

I'd stick my neck out and say modern cockpits are complex partly to protect the plane from the pilot :) A gun is far too simple to put in a cockpit, it doesn't take much to set it off, and that is the problem here.

14th May 2003, 02:35
But slim slag,

Under that logic carried farther, it has already been demonstrated that guns will STOP hijackings, as one was already prevented.

How much worse could 9/11 been with a gun in the cockpit? Not at all worse. How much better could it have been? Unfortunately we will never know...

An accidental discharge might happen, but the odds of it killing 3000 people on the ground are MUCH less than the results of another hijacking.

So you are right, another hijacking attempt WILL happen, and an armed crew behind a barricaded door will be much better prepared to land the aircraft safely and relatively uneventfully.


14th May 2003, 02:52

Your opinion is well valid.

I have an ATPL, was a badly trained Naval Officer and hold a shotgun certificate. An ND is an ND, and just because someone doesn't intend to kill another person doesn't mean the bullet won't. And be it an HK 53, MP5, 105 mm Howitzer, or a .22 air pistol, a bullet in the right (or wrong) place will kill.

Guns and aeroplanes I would think are a bad mix. I would prefer not to carry a gun on my flight deck. Not because I think I'm a wuss about shooting an intruder, but at that time of the flight I would be more concerned with keeping the aeroplane (which includes ME) safe. A well aimed shot at close quarters will kill 'safely', but a badly aimed miss could really f**k up the aeroplane, or anyone else stood in the wrong place. And why are we making it easier for the terrorists? They might have to bring their own sandwiches on the flight, but they don't have to bring their own guns! I hope we don't go that way over here.

14th May 2003, 13:02
I would have thought that the ergonomics of a cockpit would make it very difficult for either pilot to deal with an armed intruder.

Consider, they are facing the wrong way and the threat is from behind them; most likely the guns would be holstered (either on them or some place to hand but not immediately. It would take too long to draw the weapon from its holster and then to aim and shoot.

What are they going to do?

"Excuse me. Would you not use that weapon until I have mine in my hand? That's very sporting of you."

If the pilots are right-handed (as the majority of people are) then really only the co-pilot is going to have any chance of easily aiming a gun. The pilot would have to half-turn in the seat and then still have difficulty in aiming as the seat back would still impede the aiming.

Better that there are armed marshalls on board and if it turns into a gunfight at the OK business class then that would be preferable to something messier in the cockpit.

14th May 2003, 13:13
All aircraft operating in and out of the USA now have to have armored cockpit doors locked at all times. That is not a fool proof solution in and of itself. What that locked door is, is TIME.

While the door is being assaulted an emergency procedure is put in actions. It is no different than any other emergency procedure. Instead of saying, "engine failure, I have the aircraft and radios, you do ECAM" You say "I have the aircraft and radios, and you defend the cockpit" The defending person simply unstraps, turns around in his seat and points the gun at the door that is being assaulted. Sooner or later they WILL get in, but now the intruder will be staring down the barrel of a gun and shot dead. The pilot with the radios and aircraft, speeds the aircraft to the nearest safe aerodrome ASAP just as if it was a failed engine, or smoke in the cockpit or whatnot.

It is NOT complicated and it is not different then any other emergency procedure except for the requirement to hit a target with a bullet from about 3 feet away (even a child could do that).

There is no other scenario for the guns in the aircraft. They are not for going back into the cabin. and anyone worried about them taking them away from the pilots has to realize that in order for that to happen the hijacker has to already be in the cockpit, in which case the battle is already over and a sidewinder is heading for the aircraft


14th May 2003, 18:06
A gun is just a tool.

And how many of you have been taking their chainsaws, electrical drills, planes (not aircraft!), etc. with them lately??? :eek:

15th May 2003, 00:26
If these people are resourceful enough to get through an armoured door without having their arms and legs removed by the passengers, they will be resourceful enough to overpower a poorly trained pilot with a handgun. I can think of a few ways to do it myself, especially if you consider they are suicide nuts. It's not like in the movies when the bad guys go down immediately when shot in the finger, and the good guys take 50 shots to the head and can still score 150 on an IQ test.

So Wino,

You admit you have time, so no need to have the gun out at any time except when the bad guys are knocking on the door. So put the gun in a locked box which never leaves the plane. Box NEVER gets opened, and if the seals are broken the pilots get dismissed for negligently endangering the safety of the flight (for that is what handling a loaded handgun on a flightdeck boils down to).

OK by you?

I still think its all to do with some pilots are insecure because they wear small underpants :)

simon brown
15th May 2003, 00:56

An interesting scenario you put forward about shooting who ever tries to enter the cockpit, but playing devils advocate, what about accomplices that decide to take hostages on learing their comrade has been killed by the First Officer. This then puts an additional strain on the flight crew as well as flying the aircraft.They may then be drawn into "give us your gun or I kill 2 passengers" syndrome. This I would have thought would compromise flight safety even further.

Unless youve got an air marshall back there to monitor/react to events you are no better off. If the flight crew kill one of their colleagues, this is likely to piss them off further and lead to an escalation of events......

It very much depends on the nature of the hijakers. If they want something, then its better to let events unfold on the ground and negotiate. If they are fanatics whom are happy to lose their lives then, I guess, the only way to stop them is by force there and then and if necessary by shooting them.

There is no easy answer to this question apart from very stringent security, not only of passengers but the ground staff used to maintain/ turn aircraft around.

15th May 2003, 01:40
I don't think it matters either way. Once the terrorists start slitting the ladies' throats the blokes at the controls will open the door and drop the handgun. After that, as Wino says it'll be an intercept job.

15th May 2003, 02:14

Atleast in the USA, I doubt that we will ever open the door again for a terrorist, even if the pilots wind up being the last living person on the aircraft.

Since they are now obviously planning on killing everyone on board and a huge number of people on the ground, there is absolutely NOTHING to be gained by momentarily putting off the death of a hostage. It has been well drilled into the US pilots what happened the last time they opened a door simply because someone with a knife was killing flight attendants and passengers. They all died anyone, and so did 3000 people on the ground.

The moral of the story is defend the cockpit at all costs. The last living person on the aircraft will be the pilots.


It wouldn't matter if their were no guns on the aircraft. If they started slitting throats to get pilots to open the door and they were stupid enough to open up, the scenario is NO worse with the hijackers having guns. Controll of the aircraft has been lost and at the VERY minimum, all on board are now dead.


15th May 2003, 02:40
This Thread is starting to become circular in motion. IMHO there are a couple of issues that one has to stake out a position on in order to come to a useful conclusion.

Do you believe that in a vast majority of situations a successful hijacking attempt will result in the plane being diverted to a runway in "X" country. (Take me to cuba)?

Is the skymarshal system capable of providing complete protection against hyjackers?

Is the security screening of groundcrews, etc, sufficient to eliminate penetration of the plane by terrorists?

I am sure others can think of more issues, but I hope you get my point. If you answer yes to these three questions, then having a pistol/revolver on the flight deck in any manner is unnecessary. However if you agree with me that the game has changed drastically and permanently, then the firearm buys the captain precious time to land the plane or whatever he deems necessary. Issues of competency and trainng and firearm security are just that ; issues. They can be worked out by competent people who are commited to the program "Hello TSA"

19th May 2003, 00:02
OK here goes than.....<head above the parapet>

Hi Slim_Slag & Firestorm,

I take you point about my opinion. I did not explain my self very well and I am a little shy about giving an opinion sometimes. I was trying to say that, whilst I would hold that I have what could be considered reasonable experience in using weapons operationally in campaigns or theatres of war, albeit a little out of date now (I left colour service in 1994), I am not sure that I could offer a comment as to the necessity of weapons in the cockpit of a commercial flying operation. I could not say whether it was really truly necessary, because I do not really have any knowledge of what the perceived risks are; I know what the papers say but well :hmm:

The ATPs around the forum boards have far superior knowledge as to the real chances of hi-jack and the closest I get to you fellows is "Thank you for a nice flight, Captain" on the way out of the cabin....

My post was really trying to highlight that operating a firearm competently is perhaps like having an IR and maintaining the currency thereof. I must have fired approximately 1000 rounds a week in order to maintain currency from a muscle memory point of view and a mental attitude point of view. The latter of those two is very important because faced with incoming fire it takes presence of mind that comes from training and practice to avoid taking the round whilst minimising you body as a target area and returning sufficient accurately targetted fire to terminate the opposition whilst keeping the innocents in close proximity safe from crossfire; out of training it is likely that the innocents will absorb one or two shots depending how many are released. This is even more difficult in the close proximity of a cabin with perhaps hundreds of innocents within metres of the firing point and the screaming and shouting from those folks that would definately accompany any contact.

I think I am right in saying that it takes an enormous amount of training and practice to undertake hostage release operations, hence the reason that some agencies maintain training aids for exactly those type of scenarios and that they are very well utilised.

Anyway, FWIW MHO is that I would not carry a firearm in the cockpit of an aircraft, private or commercial.

In summary, would anyone allow me a day-only PPL with 1.5 hours instrument training in my log book to land any aircraft with OVC, cloudbase 500 feet, RVR 300 metres. Now we need to ask the question whether an ATP could open a cockpit door assess the situation they were presented with (including unseen targets) release enough rounds to neutralize the target(s) some of which may not have seen with 100% confidence/kill rate and without the death or injury of one of the beloved SLFs. Generally, I would say IMHO PROB 40 - No!


P.S. As to landing a 737 in a cross-wind erm erm erm erm well err not too sure on that one :O

<quietly retires back to the bar in Moe's Tavern :ok: >

Load Toad
19th May 2003, 01:58
Guns don't bother me very much; some of them look very nice.

But the bullets man......can't we ban the bullets? Or at least slow them down a lot or make them nice and soft.

19th May 2003, 04:28
Like Barney I am trained in the use of firearms, was reasonably good at it but havent used them in years . If I went for a week without fireing a firearm it took alittle while to get myself back on target, imagine a person with very limited skill under extreme pressure firing a weapon onboard an aircraft in flight.


Leave the Pilots to do what they do best flying the aircraft , getting it down on the ground ASAP and then leaving the hostage situation to the experts.
If people want firearms on board have Sky Marshalls on flights.

19th May 2003, 11:21
Don't think so....
I was trained in the use of small arms, most likely, not to the same degree as BG, on 2 different assult rifles, a support wepon, and a smg.
However, only the automatic pistol is 'suited' to use on the flight deck of an aircraft. It's also the least accurate,it's an up close and personal wepon, and requires a fair amount of training to use with any kind of confidence.
Your going to need 2 things to terminate some scum coming thru' that door, bags of confidence and b**ls of steel, it has to be a head shot, because God only knows what this b/stard's waistcoat is made of, so it's aim between the eyes, and fire.
That's after you have fumbled this lump of steel out of storage, loaded in the clip, released the safety, and pulled back the slide.
Most of you cannot be certain, that you can do that, no matter what the consequences of doing, or not doing such a thing, may be.
This sort of action is SAS, Delta Force, ARW stuff, which people train long and hard to do. They do not fly airliners in their spare time.
Keep the door locked, go to full trottle, and head for the nearest long thin strip of tarmac.
Airline safety can, IMHO, be helped best by increased security on the ground, no matter how unpopular that may be, arming airline pilots is not going to help prevent some kid having to fire a AIM-9 or 2, or more, into an airliner full of innocent people, but better ground security might.

19th May 2003, 16:06
I was thinking about this on the way to work this morning along the same lines EI. What type of weapon, bullet and charge would best suit this situation bearing in mind all the factors which have been mentioned.

At one end of the spectrum is the high velocity G3/M16 assault rifle type of weapon which would most likely dispense with the target with ease but the bullet would pass through him/her and then either pass through the skin of the a/c or ricochette around the cabin a bit and pass through a few more folk. At the other end is the 9mm/.357/.45 pistol which, as you rightly point out, is not very accurate and would need either a lucky shot fall or more than one impact to stop the target. The problem with this is that once someone has been hit their body hits maximum adrenaline flow and if they are armed with some form of bomb or other easily accessible weapon (highly likely) they will let rip and go down fighting; hence this clean kill strategy that is adopted by soldiers.

In essence the pilot may have to lay down more than one, I will guess and say three to four, rounds (assuming the target is young fit and healthy) within a matter of seconds in a suffciently small grouping to stop the target.

Normally what happens when a person is hit by a low velocity round is that a bit falls off him/her and they get up again :(

Somewhere in the middle are the type of MP5 kurtz weapons which use the same 9mm round with the same charge a pistol so it is no more use than a semi-automatical pistol but the rate of fire is much faster, this will only increase the chances of the poor SLF or CC having a bad day :ugh:

This thread is very sad. 'Nuff said from Barney me thinks. Whatever is decided keep safe out there all you ATPs, I think you do a good job in tough working conditions these days.


19th May 2003, 18:57
Tossing my two cents into the pot, it would be an observation and a complete guess, but I think that the ratio of ex-service airline pilots may well be higher in the US than in most other countries. These individuals are weapon trained, and probably not averse to using them in a reasonably competant manner. The culture and gun laws in the country also ensures that many more who are civilians probably own and are completely familiar with handguns and why they will probably be most receptive to the idea.

All airline pilots should by now be aware that they may well be obliged to take casualties aft of the armoured door in order to prevent the taking of their plane for the use in an even larger atrocity. The liklehood of suicide terrorists using acts of extreme violence to coerce the crew into co-operating is 100%. They have no compunction in killing that is their aim and the sooner everybody realises it the safer we will all be.

Your hostesses and cabin crew will be the first target, they are fellow crew members, known to the pilots and the threat of their death will be most effective in attempted coercion. Hijackers of this type have been trained to maximise shock and terror, it is among their arsenel of weapons and they want to incapacitate the pax numb them into inaction. Violent and bloody death will have that effect.

Low velocity rounds tailored for maximum tissue damage and minimum chance of puncturing the pressure vessel will probably be rounds of choice for cockpit weapons

Whether we like it or not the phenomenon of terrorist action in the air has escalated. These killers actively train how to best achieve their aim, they are looking for the weak spots in society's armour. They will exploit any chinks and are totaly ruthless. We have had warning after warning. Example after example. There should be little doubt in anybodies mind that these people can, and will, strike again. They are in the well used words 'armed and dangerous'. It is here, it is now, and we would be well advised to take a good hard realistic look at our options.

The passengers on the flight that attempted to overcome the 9/11 terrorist hijackers were armed with nothing but their will to try to do something with their bare hands, it wasn't enough. But they in the last few minutes had realised that they were going to die anyway.

There are so many things about a flight upon which our lives already depend, I for one, do not think that the introduction of a properly supervised, suitable weapon, to the cockpit crew, with some training and proper procedures, can do anything but be a small layer of additional protection to this new menace we face on a worldwide basis.

And yes, to get back on course I have had one accidental discharge with a slung rifle, I was 12 and I nearly removed the back of my head. It was a lesson that had a big impact, I was lucky, many have not been. I have had a long association with weapons of many types since then and the lesson obviously went home.
Oh by the way I have also heard it said that there are those pilots that have landed gear up, and those that will, without counting my seaplane landings I am still double checking every time because I realy would not look forward to that one.