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BALPA say: Anti-terrorist cockpit doors 'dangerous'

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BALPA say: Anti-terrorist cockpit doors 'dangerous'

Old 1st Nov 2001, 01:00
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Red face BALPA say: Anti-terrorist cockpit doors 'dangerous'

As posted by BALPA (but see also: BBC: Anti-terrorist cockpit doors 'dangerous'

31 October, 2001 PILOTS UNHAPPY WITH DEADLOCKS ON COCKPIT DOORS: ‘ILL-CONSIDERED, ILL-CONCEIVED AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS’

Commenting on the security measures announced by Virgin and BA, the British Air Line Pilots’ Association (BALPA) said that while some suggestions were sensible, the heart of the proposals - putting deadlocks on cockpit doors without considering the impact on operational procedures - was of very serious concern.Said BALPA General Secretary Christopher Darke: ‘British pilots have long believed that locked cockpit doors are not the answer to the threat of hijacking.‘After all, the cockpit doors on the four airliners taken by the terrorists on September 11 were all locked. ‘But having doors that are not only locked but have a deadlock on them that flight crew cannot lock or unlock from their normal operating positions- as BA and Virgin propose - is ill-considered , ill-conceived and potentially dangerous.‘Although deadlocks may play some part in helping to protect the integrity of the flight deck, without serious analysis and trials to validate crew procedures, an instant introduction carries a far higher risk to aviation safety than that posed from hijackers.‘Deadlocks will put passengers in more, not less, danger.’‘On a two person flight crew, if one pilot becomes ill, it will be impossible for the other pilot to get help without leaving the controls of the aircraft. The potential problems cannot be ignored.‘And what if the flight crew become incapacitated together, perhaps through smoke inhalation. Currently the cabin crew are trained to check on the welfare of the pilots from time to time. By timely administration of oxygen, for instance, disaster can be averted. By locking out cabin crew, and indeed pilots who may be travelling as passengers, they are powerless to help.‘You cannot turn the cockpit, which is the nerve centre of a complex environment, into a fortress. The success of a flight relies on a close working relationship between pilots and cabin crew.’BALPA experts are also investigating the effect of deadlocked doors on other safety aspects. In the event of a violent depressurisation, a strengthened door risks causing the cockpit floor to collapse. That is why current doors are fragile. They need to be able to break immediately when a calculated pressure is applied to them.Said Christopher Darke: ‘We will look at these doors very carefully indeed. We cannot understand why the airlines didn’t first have full and frank discussions with pilots, the regulatory authorities, or even among themselves. There is a suspicion that the announcements today are public relations and marketing led. Certainly the proposals haven’t been thought through.’Ian Hibberd, the pilot who chairs BALPA’s security committee and an acknowledged expert in the field said: ‘The International Federation of Air Line Pilot Associations, at its Tokyo conference two weeks ago, opposed the enforced locking of flight deck doors, especially doors that are deadlocked and cannot be opened from where the pilots sit. That is the view of the whole of the world pilot community. ‘The enforced locking of flight deck doors is no substitute for proper and adequate ground security and pre-boarding screening and control. The locking of cockpit doors can in fact reduce the safety both of the crews and of the aircraft by denying access in the case of an accident or incident.‘It’s on the ground that terrorists need to be stopped, and new systems have been developed that are about to be trialled. Once a terrorist gets on an airliner it’s too late. The damage is done. And deadlocked cockpit doors certainly don’t help. They won’t stop the terrorist and they do hinder the crew.’
And, imho, I must agree.

Maybe as part of a total security package these doors have a place – as in, they maybe add yet another level security, but in all honesty (cynically) they're really just a fop to make the customers / pax believe that the airlines are taking the threat seriously - and pays to remember that taking security 'seriously' costs 'serious' money !

Nb. that's the kind of money which neither of the airlines mentioned have in abundance just now (so one might read into that, that this is the minimum they can get away with - whilst being seen to have done something)

And w.r.t. to the video in the door bit..... well I for one do not relish watching Tracy from door 2R getting her throat cut (and then Sharon from 2L, and then..., and then..., and then..., etc, ..... as some terrorist tries to entice us to open the FltDck door.

Also, it’s all very well VS and BA saying that they’re going to fit a ‘second’ door system – whereby providing a second tier of security – aboard their spacious wide body aircraft, but pray tell us just what are the B737 / B757 / A319 / A320 / A321 type operators supposed to do ? ..... and rest assured, any / all of these aircraft could quite easily reek as much havoc as those aircraft involved in Sept 11th !

Perhaps the bottom line is that it’s much better to keep trouble makers off from the start, than to have to try and deal with them later within the confines of the aircraft.

I, for one, am not that impressed.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 01:20
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This whole thing reeks of panic in the marketing departments. This is throwing away 15 years of Flight Crew/Cabin Crew CRM developed after the Kegworth disaster and for what? To install a device which is dangerous obstruction to personnel, a barely surmountable barrier to emergency communications and which will thwart the hijackers right up until the moment one of us chooses to go to the toilet. This is a huge danger to the flying public and to aircrew. Think what will happen next time we have a case of incapacitation. With no means to unlock the door from your seat you'll be required to leave your seat to pull the other guy away from the controls. Now the only pilot at the controls is the one having the seizure. Very safe. Furthermore, what makes these idiots think that you can't force the doors to be opened from the inside anyway? With a knife at someones throat do you think a crew member couldn't be persuaded to ask for the door to be opened? As a final thought, I think its also rather nice of them to let us know that in the event of an incapacitating accident that flight crew are now expendable, as there's now no way to gain access to us as the flames lick round our feet. Thanks a lot!

Personally I hope the general public reading this thread see this panic measure as the danger to their safety that it is. Don't be fooled, let your airlines know that you want real security, not gestures.

[ 31 October 2001: Message edited by: Hand Solo ]
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 01:42
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As stated above, i thought that cockpit doors were brittle enough to be broke down by a fire axe in the event of a crash.
I also heard about a flight in which the captain had gone to the toilet and the first officer absolutely desperate had gone too. As soon as he got out the door, he heard the awful thud of the door lock behind him! I hear it wasnt an easy task either to break the door down with the supplied axe. Hence an indestructable door isnt the answer, a strong but destructible may be, and in the time it takes to break it down, the crew could be ready to deal with the hijackers then( im not getting into the firearms debate but a loaded gun waiting for a hijacker as soon as he succeeds in getting through would stop him, especially coupled with cctv warning you when hes going to break through)

2nd argument, pilot suicide , although rare exists and you dont wanted a suicidal pilot locked in the flight deck( or with access to a firearm)
Thats my tuppence worth
 
Old 1st Nov 2001, 01:44
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Completely agree! I dont Know the stats but I'm sure the risk of an incapacitation is far greater even the two pilot case than an attempt to take over the aircraft.
Very dangerous me thinks! Cant wait to have to try to get out in a hurry either.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 02:24
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Security of this sort can only be countenanced on a 3 pilot operation.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 02:26
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What you want in a cockpit door is delay sufficient for the pax and cabin crew to mob the bad guys.

A single door does leave the cockpit vulnerable to a surprise rush whenever a pilot visits the lav or a cabin crew member brings in a meal.

A double door arrangement blocks the surprise rush. The outer door(s) could protect the front galley. An interlock would allow only one to be open unless on the ground.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 02:36
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Well, does anyone know of a case where an incapacitated pilots random limb thrashings were sufficient to direct the aircraft straight towards a population centre, and the other pilot was not able to intervene, but fortunately the purser managed to dash into the flight deck just in time to prevent the aircraft from spearing into a skyscraper killing thousands?

It staggers me, reading this and other threads, that people don't seem to be able to grasp realities of the new situation that we find ourselves in. On this site, and in the crewroom at work, people seem unable to grasp the simple premise that in order to deny the hijackers the use of the aircraft it will be necessary to (a) have a robust door, (b) lock it and (c) not to open it regardless of the threats or actions carried out against the cabin crew or passengers.

This requires the flight crew to have the courage not to try and 'have a go' but rather to make the tough decision to stay put.

As far as the viewpoint that the solution is to prevent the wrong people getting onto the aircraft, well fine. I suggest that instead of spending time doing simulator drills of emergencies that we simply spend more money making the aircraft more reliable. After all, if an engine never fails I won't need that engine failure practice, will I!

Perhaps Chris Darke should have said "... SOME pilots..."

I do agree that ideally the lock needs to be controllable from your seat, but I say give me a robust door NOW, since we are presently bombing these people, and if it takes a couple more months to get the mod for the electric door lock sorted out, fine. In the mean time just give me a supernumery crew member. God knows there are enough spare flight and cabin crew kicking around!

CPB
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 02:59
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Well the current situation is absurd. Just got back from a flight where the FAs diligently locked the door every time they came out of the flight deck, carefully and obviously stowing the key in the same place in the galley. Any half observent pax in an aisle seat could see where it went. Other than stopping dopey loo-bound pax stumbling into the flight deck, it seemed a bit pointless.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 03:03
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Darke was not speaking for me. The chances of a pilot incapacitation on any one flight are quite small. The chances of an autopilot malfunction on any one flight are very small. The chance of both, at the same time are a risk I don't mind taking in return for this kind of security and some much needed pax confidence. Remotely operated locks can follow; Bin Liner might not wait!
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 03:32
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Exclamation

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and again, and again.... ) , but ( imho ) one of the first lines of defence is to stop trouble-makers from getting on-board in the first place, i.e. :

Boarder Guard

Boarder Guard and Air Travel

Boarder Guard plus 4000

e-Manifest

I know for a fact that this system can feed loads of info / data to the 'security services', for them to subsequently monitor / track movements / raise alerts;

.....and for those who'd shout "what about my civil rights ?" my reply would be "Well what about the civil right of those men, women, and children who were murdered on the 11th September ?!"

Yes, it'll cost some money - but hey, if it was your child/wife/husband, what price a life ?! ........ please remember this at the next election and / or the next time you fly with an airline who elects for some lesser level of protection for you !
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 12:51
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Captain Pit Bull/ E Cam

Unfortunately it has happened and not that long ago either. A co - pilot had a seizure on a 747. The Captain could just control the aircraft (he was dealing with an extreme control input from the unfortunate co - pilot) and was unable to let go of the controls let alone get up and open any door.

This whole idea is flawed not least because it has been hastily introduced with no thought or real consultation.Pilot incapacitation does happen and is but one of the concerns we all have.

I have yet to meet a pilot that doesn't think the same. Locked doors are probably inevitable but lets have procedures that reduce the danger not increase it.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 13:39
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CrashDive is right. The security efforts should be concentrated on stopping the bad guys from getting on board in the first place rather than having to deal with them at FL360.

Airlines can't afford to throw away hundreds of thousands of pounds on Kevlar doors at present and if anything as Chris Darke (and many others say) their downside is greater than their benefits.

That said, as the US Secret Service knows all to well: if you have someone skilled and determined enough then all the physical security measures in the world will not prevent them from carrying out their task.

In the words of PIRA after the Brighton bombing in 1994: "We only have to be luck once. You have to be lucky all the time"
 
Old 1st Nov 2001, 13:49
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I posted this earlier...any thoughts?

"...but would a perspex/glass/transparent cockpit door help with many of the security issues being raised at the moment?
If it was one-way-mirrored (silvered), like security windows you see in shops; then:
1) We can see straight into the cabin without having to get out of our seats to look through the peephole
2) We can see that the person knocking at the door is the No.1 with a drink, and not someone else
3) We can see if the cabin crew are "compromised" in the cabin.
4) Pax. can't see in.
Drill a couple of holes at the top and bottom, sorts out the de-pressurisation issues, and voila!
..."

Transparent / Glass cockpit doors?
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 13:55
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Capt Pitbull,

There was a recent incident of a pilot having a seizure (not the one M Mouse was on about - it was a smaller passenger jet, a 737 I think) who had to be removed to stop inadvertent control input. This incident happened 2 and a half years ago. I also know of an incident where the captain had a heart attack and collapsed with all of his 17 stone of body weight onto the control column. Now as someone who weighs approximately half that, I can't see myself flying one handed while with the other hand pulling him off the control column. I don't know - maybe once we a re all locked in our cockpits we will be told in order to remove the risk of an incapacitated pilot our airlines will remove the control column and rudder pedals. Finally, how many pilots out there can fly an aircraft and pull the captain in the window at the same time?
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 17:38
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I think the airlines are missing an important factor here. Prior to 11th September, if I was on a plane being hijacked, my reaction would be one of compliance - I'd expect a diversion somewhere and sit it out. These things used to be highly survivable.

Now, however, anyone or any group attempting to hijack a plane is going to be lynched by the pax. We understand the new rules, and guns/bombs/knives are not going to deter us.

The biggest threat posed by an armoured cockpit door is to prevent pax access to the cockpit which may have been occupied by hijackers.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 21:57
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There was an accident with an AN24 in Romania a few years ago where the aircraft made a hard landing and caught fire. All the pax and cabin crew got out but the flight deck crew were apparently incapacitated and died in the fire. Why did'nt they get out? The cockpit door had been locked on departure for security reasons and they had the key.
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Old 1st Nov 2001, 23:31
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How many people have been killed as a result of bolted cockpit doors?

Answer: Hardly any


How many people have been killed as result of insecured cockpit doors resulting losing command of the aircraft?

Answer: at least 4 aircraft, 5000 lives, billions of dollars of damage, 100,000 lost airline jobs in the US alone, and countless damage to the civilized world economy.

It's difficult to suffer posts by morons incapable of critical thought.
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 00:07
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Roadtrip

Exactly
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 00:15
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Unhappy

BA/Virgin are trying to restore pax confidence.

BALPA appear to be trying to undermine their efforts.

Any fool can see that what the airlines are doing is less that perfect.

I prefer this less than perfect solution to the alternative i.e. unemployment!
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Old 2nd Nov 2001, 00:25
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Roadtrip:

How many airlines have bolted flight deck doors? Hardly any. The answer to your question should have been 'hardly any yet'. Furthermore its highly likely the doors were secure on all the flights on Sept 11th, as per FAA requirements. That didn't stop them.

The 'morons incapable of critical thought' you dislike are the ones who came up with this hare-brained idea. If you want security you need a second door between the flight deck and the cabin like El-AL use. They've thought about, BA/VS haven't.

E Cam:

I'm sure BA/VS are trying to improve passenger confidence. Lets see how confident they are when both pilots get locked out of the flight deck on the turnaround and the Eng has to drill his way in. Lets see how confident they are when the guys in row 1 (incidentally, which is where some of the hijackers were sitting) see the armour plated door open so the pilots can get out. Especially if the only thing blocking their way is a small hostie and an unsuspecting pilot. Lets see how convinced of this system they are when I have to leave the flight deck and there's a line of six people queuing for the lav right outside my door.

I've discussed this with plenty of non-flying friends and they are in no way fooled by this. We're in no different a situation than we were on September 11th, except this time the hijackers will have to be more opportunistic about when they seize control.

[ 01 November 2001: Message edited by: Hand Solo ]
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