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Irish Govt questions UK Govt over bomb threat handling

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Irish Govt questions UK Govt over bomb threat handling

Old 11th May 2006, 11:32
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theoretical exercise

it was interesting what somebody said earlier about whether a bomb threat in a building would be treated the same way..

so what would happen if a bomb threat against a police station was called in? Would the finest in blue sit there tapping their reports into the computers or would they suddenly find a need to go on patrol or catch a criminal on the street or catch up on a witness statement at a tower block far away? Remember that the alleged bomb would be large enough to totally pulverise the station, as that is by and large what would be happen to a fully fuelled aircraft. Not a little letter bomb that just blew out windows in the immediate cube where you could rationalise the odds.

!
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Old 11th May 2006, 11:49
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Originally Posted by Flame
OK Men (& ladies) ...
Lets assume you are the PIC of an aircraft that has been diverted to Prestwick, you are sitting on the ground for 10 minutes, knowing (obviously) that a bomb threat has been made against your aircraft. Security people, on the ground have refused you permission to allow your PAX off, you can see armed police / soldiers on the ramp , then a few PAX demand to exit the aircraft, get boistrous, start getting angry with your cabin crew, the situation may get out of control, they allege your crew are putting them in danger and demand to get out of the aircraft....bearing in mind that all they want to do is get off your potential ticking time bomb.... what do you do
Get on the PA and tell them they can get off if they want, but armed Police have declared the intention of shooting them as they leave.

See how brave they are then.
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Old 11th May 2006, 12:56
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So just to summarise what you're saying BJCC, just so you don't receive any undue criticism.
Passengers are kept secured onboard the diverted aircraft, potentially sitting on a semtex seat cushion, rather than being allowed to disembark/evacuate because of the potential risk of one or more terrorists running amok airside with whatever they managed to smuggle aboard.
Now if this is the case at least there was some logic behind the decision, perhaps flawed logic but not paralysis.
However, the risk assessment does seem a little skewed as I assume the aircraft in question is parked on the most remote stand at the airport and any running amok would be easy to isolate, even with the existing airport police before the cavalry arrive from Glasgow.
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Old 11th May 2006, 13:07
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One wonders if this gross cockup had anything to do with the departure of Charles Clarke as Home Secretary shortly afterwards (terrorist security is still a National concern, not the Scottish Parliament).

I am glad that the Irish Govt has raised it at government level so it won't be glossed over.

Bearing in mind this flight was Beauvais - Dublin, if the threat occurred in UK airspace they must have been near either the West Country or West Wales. To divert to Prestwick from there would take quite some time (in fact possibly Stansted, the other security alternate, would have been closer). If the authorities at Prestwick cannot marshal their people into place in that time then it shows that Prestwick is the wrong airport for such diversions.
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Old 11th May 2006, 13:10
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bjcc I don't know what thread or what discussion your are contributing to, or whether or not you have read what this discussion has been about, but you say that
You ask who's in charge. The senior Police Officer on scene is. Police being the designated authority for terrorist incidents.
This is to do two things. (1) Ask a key question and give an answer, and (2) introduce a red herring - or, worse, to designate a bomb warning to be something that it has not been in the past (this is all about two specific events, not a bit of theory).

In respect of (1) your claim that it is the senior Police Officer who is in charge is disputed (as you assert it above) - no matter how firmly you assert it, and in respect of (2) you are apparently claiming that once a bomb warning is issued there is a "terroritst incident" and the aircraft commander loses all his or her responsibilities for the safety of the passengers. (It also looks like, if I many say so, that you have had some exposure to U.S. thinking on the widespread powers that the police seem to feel they can assume just by announcing the word "terrorist").

One way or another, the commander of an aircraft is legal in charge until some point. The purpose of ascertaining who is in charge of the aircraft and of the safety of the passengers is what this thread is about. You can state your version as firmly as you want, but I am clear in my mind that the facts in how these two flights were managed do not stack up. There is a manifest lack of clarity about policy and decision-making autonomy that needs to be sorted out.

I am not in the slightest interested in getting into a spat with you about terrorist stuff. This was a bomb warning, considered serious enough to lead to a directed diversion to an diversionary airfield - but not considered serious enough to evacuate the aircraft. This is the key point of tension. In addition you are among a small number of individuals who seem obsessed with the rights of the police, but not of passengers and crew.

The issue for you to address is this: at what precise point from the issuing of a bomb warning to the crew of an aircraft to the successful disembarkation of the passengers and crew does the responsibility for the disposition of the flight move from the captain to "senior police officer on scene". That, and the relevant policy, is what the letter from the Minister is about. It is not an unreasonable idea, to put it mildly, that these matters should be cleared up. An answer requires a bit more than a mere assertion from you which flies in direct contradiction of the law as it relates to the operation of aircraft. The real issue is the lack of clarity and the consequent potential for a really serious error of judgment.
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Old 11th May 2006, 14:11
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If there are designated airfields for terrorist threat diversions, then surely the thing to do, if it's desirable to contain the pax, is to erect a compound that is enclosed by a secure wire fence on 3 sides big enough to take a 380, that way the a/c would taxy into it, and the pax could be allowed of the a/c but could only go in one direction making it easy to control them and ensure no one escapes. Also it would ensure that people were in a relative safe zone as most of the explosive force would be to the side of the a/c not rearwards.

This would of course show a lot of planning on the part of the goverment something that seems lacking at the moment.
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Old 11th May 2006, 14:17
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snaga

Dealing with your last point first, the lack of clarity. I agree, or we wouldn't be having this discussion. I made the point twice earlier, The CAA/NATS/MIL/Home Office/Police and all the other bits that hang on and get involved SHOULD sit down and explain why they do what. It may not help these situations, but at least everyone knows then why things are done.

Ok, having established that, dealing with the 'who's in charge' point. This isn't a peeing contest. The pilot knows how to fly and operate his aircraft, as a Police officer, I am not interested in that, nor do did I want to get involved in it. But where I do did get involved is when it arrived at the airport I worked on. From that point, its is as I said the responsibility of the senior police officer on scene, be that a PC or the Commissioner.The reasons it is isn't up for debate, its in a home office memo. Even if you ignore the T word, the aircarft, in both circumstances are scenes of crime, and again, fall under police control.

Now, usually, the deicisions are made by 'committee' at this sort of thing. The captain is the planes expert, Police are the terrorism experts. The Airport authority provide the faciliies and so on. It works provided everyone understands why. In these 2 cases, that has either broken down somewhere, or there were reasons not to say. I can't say which, I wasn't there.

You should not assume that because you can't or don't agree with what is from Police point of view a valid reason for not doing something, then they are wrong. They had more info that you do on the subject.

It could also be of course that the airline had decided the threat was green, and therefore there was no need to evacuate. We don't know.,
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Old 11th May 2006, 15:54
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Originally Posted by bjcc
It could also be of course that the airline had decided the threat was green, and therefore there was no need to evacuate. We don't know.,
If the threat was GREEN why divert in the 1st place ? In terms of position, they would have flown past DUB to get to PIK, surely an expeditious approach to DUB would have been better, if the threat was GREEN !!
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Old 11th May 2006, 16:04
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I don't know it was green, I am just suggesting that one other possible reason why nothing was done.

As I understand it though, the decision to go to PIK was not made by the airline threat assessor.
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Old 11th May 2006, 16:41
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bjcc
at what precise point from the issuing of a bomb warning to the crew of an aircraft to the successful disembarkation of the passengers and crew does the responsibility for the disposition of the flight move from the captain to "senior police officer on scene".
- That was my question. Your response was:
But where I do did get involved is when it arrived at the airport I worked on. From that point, its is as I said the responsibility of the senior police officer on scene, be that a PC or the Commissioner.
That is not specific enough. Does the law not say that the captain is in charge until the doors are opened. In this case it appears the doors were closed AND disembarkation was refused and - possibly - the captain was informed that snipers were positioned to enforce the refusal (though I cannot be certain that this was definitively the case).

You know what you know because
... it's in a home office memo.
Well, the obvious questions are (a) if this is a memo about Bomb Alerts or some other type of event and (b) when precisely does the transfer of responsibility take place according to the memo?

Also, would you think me picky if I were to suggest that when you say
They had more info that you do on the subject.
- that maybe they did not have more info, but perhaps had the same, or even less? I think it is evident that something has gone askew here and I think you might even share my suspicions.
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Old 11th May 2006, 17:05
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snaga

Leaving aside the snipers comment, because thats the last thing that a. the crew would be told and b. that would have happened by that stage.

I'll repeat what I said. The relevent authorities should sit down and thrash it out. This isn't the place. Moaning on here may make you feel better, but wont solve it. The Mil have thier way, the airlines theirs. The Police then have to sort it out, having been faced with a plane arriving, probably with next to no warning.

The common sense approach is to take advice from each other. As I said, I don't fly planes, you don't Police. My objectives in the circumstances may well be the same as yours, saftey, but how we arrive at that may well be different. Your concern is just the pax on that aircraft, mine would be the entire airport. There is little point in letting all pax off an aircraft, and not having the ability to keep them sterile.


As I said, Police are the prime authority for crime in the UK. Terrorism is a crime. A Bomb threat is a crime. Police therefore have control over it. In the same way as if there was a murder on an aircraft. Again, the point at which control passes from you to police is common sense. I aint going to interfer in the air. Once you land its a police matter.

Do I agree something went wrong? Presuming that the crew were not informed why they were not getting off, and that the threat was not classed as green after landing, then yes, there seems to have been a breakdown in communications. I say seems because thats all I can say.
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Old 11th May 2006, 20:26
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Yes sounds like a delay because pax should be disembarked with the minimum of delay. Green threat? no, aircraft do not need to divert for this. Prestwick was the correct airfield to land at and an F3 escort is the best cause of action as 'you never know!!'

If Ryanair and the Irish govt don't like the way it was handled then don't operate in the UK. They are an Irish airline and are an overseas carrier when it comes to UK emergency planning.

Im sure the Irish authorities would have acted just as fast??????

SL
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Old 11th May 2006, 21:56
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bjcc it is true to say that
Terrorism is a crime. A Bomb threat is a crime.
- but they should not be conflated. The constant introduction of terrorism into this matter is an utter red herring. You also say that
Again, the point at which control passes from you to police is common sense.
- but you have not been able to tell me, despite my asking twice, at what precise moment this happens. I did explain my understanding of the situation and I stand to be corrected.

loadie, I think you may find that representations were also made by U.K. organisations. You would not have made such an inane remark about not operating into the U.K. if you had the slightest grasp of what is at issue here. If you are a commercial pilot you would do better to pay a bit of attention to how this matter develops.
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Old 11th May 2006, 23:16
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Originally Posted by Shuperstar Loadie
..... and an F3 escort is the best cause of action as 'you never know!!
Why is "you never know" appropriate for deploying the Tornado F3 escort but not for getting the pax away from the threat at the first opportunity ?
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Old 12th May 2006, 02:02
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Guys, read loadies post again. He is either winding you up or else under 10 years old and on daddies computer trying to play with adults. Don't argue! It just eggs them on.
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Old 12th May 2006, 04:25
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Originally Posted by derekvader
I would have evacuated myself, via the slide if necessary, and I am sure that other passengers would have joined me. Who would have stopped me?
I am amazed that passengers didn't take things into their own hands. Either they didn't have any idea whatsoever why they had quickly landed at Prestwick (I find this hard to believe) or something was said to them to keep them quietly in their seats, but what?
Read my earlier post, and imagine the worst sight facing you---by our 'own' team. If I had been the captain, I would have been breathing fire, but I might still have complied.
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Old 12th May 2006, 08:28
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snaga

The reason why terrorism is introduced into this is because it is the relevent subject. A bomb threat comes under that general heading, so it's whats being dealt with.

I can't give you a precise moment of passing control, because it depends on the specific circumstances. In general though, while the plane needs controlling in some way, I would not have interffered in that.

The question needs addressing to people who probably don't read this though. Try ACPO or SRG.
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Old 12th May 2006, 21:42
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WHBM and Bomber Harris, obviously you have never been involved in real security or the real military as you would understand the term lateral thinking. And yes i'm ten years old. Thats ten years of keeping myself alive in my previous employment as 'you never know' has kept me on this mortal coil more than once.

Over reacting has saved lives on may occasions. Not appropriate but people are alive still because of this.Yes the pax need to get off quickly but a hand written note was probably left on the aircraft by someone on board as the cabin crew would have or should have picked this up during security checks. So the authorities on the ground would have to detain all on board until they were satisfied that the culprit wasn't a pax on board and to set up a cordon or holding area with the manpower required does take time.

You stick to flying as you know nothing about security operations do you both???

Maybe it's time you grandad's left the kids computer alone.
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Old 13th May 2006, 11:47
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Do some of you people honestly think that a police commander in the UK would order the shooting of passengers in an inccident if they started to evacuate the aircraft (under the command of the captain or as an independent act)?................... I doubt it !

This idea of keeping people on the aircraft looks to me to have more to do with a slow witted police commander on the spot with a lack of police manpower to deal with the seach of ALL the pax and a lack of political guidence as well as a failure to grasp the need to act to secure the safety of the pax becaue he has lost sight of the primary objective due to the "security is above all" culture that seems to be the order of the moment in aviation.

Some of you seem to be saying that the police stance is "if you run from the bomb we will shoot you". I have to ask how would that stand up in court in a contry that cant even kick out people convicted of hijacking ?

The fact is that if the authoritys won't move people off an aircraft that might have a bomb on it with reasonable speed the captain has no option but to order the evacuation of the aircraft to ensure passenger safety.
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Old 13th May 2006, 13:48
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Originally Posted by WHBM
....they must have been near either the West Country or West Wales. To divert to Prestwick from there would take quite some time (in fact possibly Stansted, the other security alternate, would have been closer).
Have to admit this is a guess but these routes to EGSS could end up going over, or near, some well populated areas including London. That could mean a few casualties on the ground. However a run up the Irish sea would be somewhat safer. Not that's any comfort for the crew and pax.

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