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VIRGIN Blue pilot tests positive for traces of explosives

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VIRGIN Blue pilot tests positive for traces of explosives

Old 4th Nov 2008, 22:05
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VIRGIN Blue pilot tests positive for traces of explosives

From "The Australian"

Pilot allowed to fly despite positive test for explosive
Natalie O'Brien | November 05, 2008

A VIRGIN Blue pilot who tested positive for traces of explosives and then avoided security guards was allowed to continue unchecked and fly a passenger aircraft.

The security breach at Sydney's domestic airport in August was sparked when the pilot, who has not been identified, was selected for the random explosives testing but left the security screening area while guards were waiting for the results of the sample.

Instead of calling in the Australian Federal Police and grounding all the outbound Virgin Blue flights until the pilot was found, the guards covered up the security breach.

An investigation by The Australian into the incident has exposed a widespread problem with the testing of pilots that could be exploited by terrorists.

Security sources say pilots are often not selected for the explosives testing because of their aggressive attitude towards it.

It is understood that there have been several incidents in Australian airports in which pilots have refused the random explosives test, leading to reprimands from the airlines.

Aviation security experts warned of the risks involved in pilots refusing to undergo the tests.

Nick O'Brien, an associate professor in counter terrorism at Charles Sturt University, said: "If it became known that pilots were immune to screening it would be tempting to train as a pilot and get a job or target them and steal their passes."

The explosive trace scanners can give false-positive readings, which are triggered by high-nitrogen content fertilisers, some perfumes or shoe polish. Positive readings can also be given by people who have come into contact with fireworks or who have been to a fireworks display.

Last year, two Qantas pilots, one a captain, refused to remove their shoes for screening after setting off security alarms.

A spokesman for the Department of Infrastructure said yesterday it was aware of the incident in August at Sydney airport. He said the actions of the Virgin Blue pilot were unacceptable and a breach of the security procedures.

"Aviation security regulations require that airports and airlines ensure that all persons entering a sterile area of an airport (including air crew) be screened," the spokesman said. "Explosive trace detection sampling is one layer of the screening process. Undertaken on a random and continuous basis, it may result in flight crew being selected for sampling."

SNP Security, the company that employed the guards, said it had sacked three staff involved in the security breach and cover-up.

"A thorough SNP Security investigation took place following the incident, and upon completion of the investigation appropriate disciplinary action was taken," a company spokeswoman said.

A Virgin Blue spokeswoman said the company was investigating the allegations.

The revelations about the security breach come as it was revealed that British security services had discovered up to 100 potential terrorists posing as postgraduate students. It is believed the suspects tried to gain access to laboratories to obtain the materials and expertise needed to create chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.

And the cleaners, refuelers, ground crew, safety officers, Cutter 1, Air traffic controllers, Ambo's, maintenance personnel (painters etc), engineers, aircraft washers, Aircraft painters, the guys who dump the loo and fill the water apparently are more trustworthy and don't need to go throught security of undertake explosives tests! I feel safe already

Last edited by fmcinop; 4th Nov 2008 at 22:28.
fmcinop is offline  
Old 4th Nov 2008, 22:20
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Did the pilot really avoid security guards, or, did s/he go about their business oblivious to the allegedly positive test?

I know of a pilot who having shot a snake enroute to work to fly, was explosive tested, and x-ray'd.

No explosives detected, nor was the live shotgun cartridge inadvertently left in his pocket.
Capt Claret is offline  
Old 4th Nov 2008, 22:30
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Authorities might find that some pilots are less "aggressive" if testing was carried out on an all or nothing basis including the people mentioned in the above post".

Pilots and cabin crew feel singled out and this is where things become uncooperative.
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 22:49
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So what if they feel singled out. Who is better placed to adversely effect the safety of an aircraft if they choose to. There are nutters in every occupation.

I am sure a crew member would strongly object to carrying a passenger who refused to be security screened because he/she felt they were being singled out.

Get over it you precious gits.
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 23:00
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I did happen to be witness to a ... airline .... captain asked to be swab tested in adelaide one day and I must say, the captains attitude left much to be desired.
I totally agree that security for crew is sometimes frustrating but it takes about 15 seconds and a polite hello will get you on your way.
I guess the next phase of xray security screening being tested now will really show who has the little dix....
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 23:31
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Wouldn't it be much easier for a terrorist to get a job as airport security and then allow one of his friends past ?

Do a course for a few hundred $$$, guaranteed job at the end. May have to do car parks or public events first, but getting an airport job shouldn't be too hard.

Once someone has managed to get through to a pilots job, they don't need weapons or explosives. There already is an axe within easy reach, or just wait until the other pilot leaves the flight deck.

Most security guards are polite and professional, still doing their jobs whilst causing minimum inconvenience to those they deal with. However there are some I would love to meet in a dark car park; ignorant, power mad, arrogant, rude scum who lack the social skill needed to wheel clamp cars.

Seperate lanes for aircrew, with appropriately trained people manning them. Special ID cards with finger print or iris matching would eliminate the danger of impersonation.

BTW Anyone remember the case of a fake Virgin Blue pilot a few years back ? Made the newspapers
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 23:32
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Good one Socket


here here. The pilot is the best placed person to cause damage. You are not being victimised, there is no plot to destroy pilots.

As for other staff they will soon be tested, only a matter of time.
Old 4th Nov 2008, 23:33
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it is not about the time taken to do it. YES, it only takes a minute. but the fact that pilots are singled out by people who look more dodgy than we do, asked to remove pieces of clothing when others do NOT have to (ie headwear) is VERY VERY demeaning. I am sure that it is just a show for the public, and the little pr!cks who enjoy singling you out need to be taught some manners.
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 23:42
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Regrettably there are far too many "exceptions" to the security checks as per the above post.
As part of the office staff of an airline, charged with aircraft document updates as part of those duties I could go via the "side door" through the baggage area with a stack of manuals no problems.
Go as part of a crew, full scan, swab, rudeness, same fella, same intent, enjoying Aviation

It was a lot more fun in the 60's

On one occasion, asked if I minded a random swab, I said YES I DO MIND, as the only person in the area I said, NOT REALLY RANDOM!!!
Q, you are refusing a test
A, no, just objecting!!!!!!!!

They were unable to understand the difference.

Seriously, if some of them ever get an IQ of 50 they should sell

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Old 4th Nov 2008, 23:44
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I copped a positive once and, while a second swab was being analysed by the same machine, the security staff elaborated on the list of innocent products/activities above to include things like using or cleaning a BBQ. In my case they admitted the analyser's receiving slot hadn't been cleaned for months, despite a requirement for more regular decontamination, and worked much better after it had! No wonder these people and procedures try aircrew patience.
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 00:14
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The pilot is the best placed person to cause damage.
Yep and not via explosives either einstein - its called a control column.

You are not being victimised, there is no plot to destroy pilots.
No sh!t sherlock but having the rest of the people that access the tarmac would possibly make the process more logical and give those that refuse less ground to stand on.

Get over it you precious gits.
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 00:22
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fake Virgin Blue pilot
You don't mean that chick who got busted with a stolen Virgin hostie's uniform and ASIC do you??? Jodie whatsername???

Can't believe anyone thought she was the real deal, as if they would let her out of training looking as scruffy as she did!

I feel the same, I have no problem with 'random' testing if it would apply equally to everyone working at the airport!
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 00:43
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I want to know how come you simply take flying lessons then, Presto! you have a airline job. So much easier to become a flight attendent and let the pilots have it with the crash axe, would save a lot of time and money. Spare me.
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 00:50
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I get fed up of the stupidity of the system we Pilots have to go through. I never talk back to these guys, and always do as I'm told, as that's the easiest way for everyone. But what needs to change is the system from the top, so we don't go through these checks for "nailclippers, penknives" etc

If they can't trust the Pilots, then why do they trust every Federal Police guard to wander the airport with guns? These guys could easily have extra weapons to pass on to their mates. They wander past the detectors all the time (obviously).


Do you realise how stupid it is to make a comment that we should not be trusted, and have to be checked due to "safety". Does it really make you feel safer?? If a pilot wants to kill you, he doesn't need to blow you up, he'll just crush you and everyone else at 800kmh +. Remember 911 didn't use explosives, just guys with very wrong and evil intentions at the control column. We have gone through the system and background checks when we fly for airlines. No, it's not a foolproof system, but security at the airport doesn't solve that problem!

If they insist on Pilots being checked "thoroughly", then they need to employ a security officer to fly on the jump seat to make sure we don't do anything dangerous whilst flying the aircraft (even then it would be useless if we used full control deflection after Vr).

....and then who checks the integrity of the security officer on board?? another security guy??

Come on!! There has to be a certain amount of common sense and trust, otherwise Aircraft wouldn't be allowed in the air. Lets make the system more efficient by utilising the time and equipment on the passengers.
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 00:59
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A friend of the family has been caught out a number of times with the same positive test. The explanation, and possibley the same here for the pilot, is that some of the ingredients in certain perfumes/aftershave (made in certain countries?) are the same as in explosives, and these are picked up as a false positive.
A bit like some of the ingredients in icecream can also be found in rat poison!
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 01:07
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it would be tempting to train as a pilot and get a job
Given the present pilot shortage, there is something about the wording of this statement makes me laugh...

or target them and steal their passes.
So what he is saying is that the ASIC system is completely flawed - all you need to do is steal one.

We have gone through the system and background checks when we fly for airlines. No, it's not a foolproof system, but security at the airport doesn't solve that problem!
Suggest the installation of leather couch and interrogator at each security checkpoint for on-the-spot psychoanalysis of all those who pass.
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 01:30
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And when the wind at YBBN blows from the right angle guess what it blows over.......... 2 fantastic fertilizer plants.

And they do see a rise in tests especially from those who work there and have more accumulated residue on cars, railings etc which may get on your coat/shirt etc.

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Old 5th Nov 2008, 01:35
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I think the problem here is that some on PPRuNe are complaining because their sensibilities are being challenged...

By all means tell the media that other workers are walking through security unchallenged.However,if you are asked to undergo a test or explosives check then what harm is there to do it...

However,to say a pilot is incapable of an act of terror or would rather just use the controls to achieve that goal is simplistic at best and dangerously naive at worst...
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 02:33
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What is the point of an explosives test anyway. I tested positive once after working on the garden. He then let me go through and continue with my day.

Mr Terry Wrist knows that certain after shaves give false reading so he covers himself in it, goes and works in the garden before hand. When the machine goes off he say smell my after shave and look at my dirty nails. Then goes through anyway.

So the point of the test is??????
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 02:41
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Even though the whole security screening for flight crew in my view is pointless an asic should suffice, its the process you are subjected to in the event you return a positive test result that I object to. Wait till you go through one of those and see if you still believe it is necessary. Walking through a cloud of lawn fertilizer dust on your way into work will do it.
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