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Darling says "let there be marshals"

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Darling says "let there be marshals"

Old 19th Dec 2002, 16:36
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Once the terrorist has burst onto the flightdeck, there is probably precious little anyone can do.
Of course now we have (or are just about to have in our company) locked, armoured doors the theory is that no one will be able to burst onto the flightdeck. That's the theory, in fact the door will still be opened from time to time in the air and it will still be possible for someone to force their way onto the flightdeck during that time. The BIG difference now is that nobody can then get him out again, all he needs to do is overpower whoever is left on the flightdeck and then he can relax, take his time, and select his target in peace while he listens to people trying in vain to break (and now shoot) the door down. Scary stuff.

In my opinion we are better off with a curtain across the flightdeck than a single armoured door. The only solution is the (very expensive, hence not going to happen) El Al solution of a double door system. This ensures that there is never an open path from the cabin to the cockpit.
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 16:54
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And just when you thought things couldn't get any crazier...

security bill that became law late last month allows airline pilots to
carry weapons aloft, but the next step is not an easy one: Volunteers
must be recruited, training programs must be put in place and somebody
has to pay for it all. The new law stipulates that the training is to
begin by Feb. 25, but no funding is provided by Congress. Al Aitken,
spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, told the Associated Press
that he expects about 30,000 of the 100,000 airline pilots in the U.S.
will volunteer. Industry groups are now working with the government to
establish a training plan. One such proposal would consist of a five-
day, 48-hour course in which pilots would fire 2,000 rounds of
ammunition, and then participate in a simulated hijacking. Bulletproof
cockpit doors are due to be installed by April.
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 17:20
  #23 (permalink)  
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in my H.O. Darling is talking rubbish. This is all a bluff.

The UK armed Police is already massively overstretched, with the likes of SO19 and many county units working vast amounts of overtime just to keep those on the ground safe.

I am unaware of any basis in avaition law which dictates to an airline that thou shalt have an armed guard in one of thine paying seats. They are commercial companies working to the law and are unlikely to bend to a whim of the Government. Indeed, there are human rights issues here!

I like to think myself reasonably well connected in Police firearms circles and I haven't heard anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(retire to drawing room with large port and await men in black suits)
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 17:36
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So let's assume that the government decides to place an armed policeman on your flight one day. He will somehow have to circumvent all the security without giving himself away to the hundreds of people who see him in the terminal. Or perhaps he will pull up at the aircraft side in an unmarked police car and run up the steps.

But surely he will have to declare himself to the crew? Imagine the scene if a cabin crew member caught a glimpse of his gun in its holster? Wouldn't his identity have to be made known to the flight crew? How will we feel knowing that there is a loaded gun on board?

He cannot therefore remain anonymous. The young girls will be chatting him up. He will be unduly familiar with the entire process and environment on board. Soon he will be bored and perhaps lose alertness, regardless of his professionalism. I like flying, but a long flight renders me zombie-like.

With all this in mind, I find it hard to imagine being prepared to operate a flight under these circumstances. I will step off the aeroplane, and tell the company to find someone else. I suspect I will not be alone.
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 17:38
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A viewer's poll on Sky News that was done this afternoon was very interesting. Nearly 80% of those voted were in favour of Sky Marshals. Maybe this might bring back those travellers who have still been a bit edgy after 9/11. It would be good to see pax figures up but I, like many of you have concerns. I feel that this is a job for military personnel (obviously undercover!) and not the police. Maybe our friends at El Al could teach our guys a thing or two!
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 18:09
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So what happens if a 'sleeper' terrorist is recruited and trained as a marshall?

I know where I would be applying if I were a sleeper...
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 18:41
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I wonder how a sky marshal would have coped with a plane load of lagered up Celtic supporters...
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 19:05
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It's bad enough having to endure those idiots from ADI when we start work each day.
Now darling is going to give the brightest one of then ( ahem!) a gun and put him on my aircraft!
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 19:15
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I wonder how a sky marshal would have coped with a plane load of lagered up Celtic supporters...
Stand there and admit to being a ranger? Maybe even chant "Rangers.....Rangers........Rangers....urrrgh"

I believe one scheme at the moment is for the S/M to carry the gun in his hand luggage, and there to be some secret signal that the gate & Security staff will nod the bag through. Which means the terrorists would have to allow him to get out of his seat, take the gun out of the bag... Point it at them....etc..

nah. Not happening, is it?
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 19:19
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Err, and so what about private, corporate and freighter jets – they gonna put sky marshals on them too ?

After all, many of them are full-blown airliners, often operated from airports where little or no checks on their passengers and / or crew and / or freight are undertaken.

Indeed do you know how much one can procure an airworthy B727 freighter for ? It's buttons !

E.g. Given the kind of funds that they have access to Johnny terrorist could easily procure an old ( but large ) jet aircraft then, sight unseen in some remote foreign airfield, he / she could fill it with as much explosive and / or nerve gas and / or neurotoxin etc as the ageing leviathan can stagger into the air with (after all, it's gonna be a one-way trip ), they then stooge their way over to (say) London, release the chemicals over the city, before crashing their aeronautical chariot into (say) the House of Parliament / Buckingham Palace / Everton Football ground ( on a Saturday avo ) in well publicised blaze of glory.

Once again, this must surely be a far simpler proposition than trying to commander a passenger airliner – so what’s being done about it ?......... where the answer is, as we all know, stuff all !

But why is this so ?

Would it perchance be that it’s basically too difficult to police ( read, ‘expensive’ ) and / or that there are no votes to be had in it ?!
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 20:25
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It has been said but falls on deaf ears, "They have won." Now I must pay more taxes for no greater level of protection. They will not say how many and where, so we have no idea who these people are or what I am going to have to pay them.

It will be amusing to see what Tony Bush does when the sea port get hit (or whatever the next target is), rather than the aircraft.
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 20:47
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Yeah, we could also go down the route of converting a petrol tanker into bomb, and all sorts of nasties. What security is to exist to stop someone just stealing an aircraft? Okay, so they've got to learn to take off as well but that might be easier than trying to deal with sky-marshals and passengers and so on. You can only go so far, and people will always find a way around you. That doesn't mean we should not do everything in our power to prevent these things happening. If we stop just one, it's worth it. But I think armed guards are the answer where the threat of hijacking is concerned. To be honest, I think this is all press spin. What's actually happened is that it's been agreed that where they KNOW a hijacking is going down, they'll supply armed officers who MIGHT travel on the plane. And from there we've got "armed guards... Plane....2+2=6...." What a headline for the newspapers and barstool generals everywhere think it's a wonderful idea and vote labour.....

What amazed me was the they questioned whether I could have a large key with me when I flew on a plane on 14/9/01 and they took the nail-file from a girl in front of me. But when i'd been through all the security at LHR, they sold me alcohol in a glass bottle... As much as I wanted.. And I stuck it in my hand luggage. I don't know about you guys, but if I had to choose between being attacked by someone with a nail-file and someone with a bottle with the bottom knocked out, i'd go for the manicurist!
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 21:37
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keep them away from aeroplanes

The last thing we need is someone on an aeroplane with a gun
the general public may feel safer but what if the sky marshall is overpowered? what we need is a secure flight deck and better security before they get near a plane, the most worrying thing to me is the lunatic with a shoulder launched SAM now someones had a go at EL AL they will all get on the bandwaggon and gave a go and we dont have any control over that
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Old 19th Dec 2002, 21:40
  #34 (permalink)  
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Is not there a deterrent effect here?

A terrorist has a very hard time getting a gun on board these days. Remember the weapons used for 9/11. There is little doubt that a gun in the cockpit would have stopped the 9/11 terrorists in their tracks. It doesn't even take much training - the range is about 4 feet and the target is man-size. A revolver is 100% safe until you pick it up and the load can be adjusted to stop in the first body.

Therefore, if some airlines/nationalities announce that they have guns on board and others do not, which ones are going to get targeted? It's hardly rocket science.

Of course, as was suggested in an earlier post, the terrorists could resort to SA-7 or similar weapons "as at Mombasa". Three points arise. Firstly, while it is not entirely impossible to get hold of an SA-7, it's a lot more difficult than buying a Stanley knife. Second, the Mombasa attack failed. These weapons are obviously nothing like 100% successful. And thirdly, the consequenses of a successful Mombasa, while tragic, would have been vastly less than the 9/11 disaster.

The obvious point that arises from the above is that to defeat suicide terrorists requires guns in the cockpit (which is already a sealed area).

Sky marshals have the additional problem that when the guy with a gun stands up on the plane, my reaction as a passenger will be to bottle him with anything available (will a 3.5 kg laptop do?), take the gun off him and use it as I see best for my own survival. As anyone who appreciates my handle might understand, I'm actually quite experienced with guns and wouldn't have a problem blowing away any threat. I am also a professional pilot and appreciate that much of the "technical " objection to gunfire on board is actually bollocks. Aircraft are surprisingly robust. And I have flown home with bullet holes in the fuselage.

I suggest the way to go is obvious.

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Old 19th Dec 2002, 23:38
  #35 (permalink)  

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Thumbs down

The problem is is that the government are 'spinning' a line. It is fairly obvious that there will only be a limited number of armed sky marshalls available (if any?) and the hope is that, as a number of you have already stated, you wouldn't want to board an aircraft with a loaded gun on board (albeit for slightly different reasons) which is what they hope any potential hijacker will think. It's a very limited deterrent.

It is obvious that they are not going to announce any numbers, routes or airlines that are going to have armed sky marshalls. Speculation is difficult but the thinking behind the decision to even announce the program seems to be that they (he?) will be deployed on 'high risk' routes. All that does is make the potential hijackers direct their efforts at the 'lower risk' routes and defeats the purpose.

At least on El Al you know that there are armed, and highly trained sky marshalls on EVERY flight and that's after being profiled before checking in. Unless the government are prepared to do more than pay lip service for the sake of a quick soundbite then most of us in the industry will remain sceptical and continue to point out the flaws in their decision making.

As with other 'cosmetic' approaches to security, we are fed silly 'packages' by the media that this new announcement of a limited number of armed sky marshalls being available is going to somehow cause a surge in trans-Atlantic traffic because passengers will somehow feel safer and more prepared to fly than before?!

As far as I am concerned, they either do the job properly or else stop interfering for the sake of a few votes. Unless the government are prepared to implement a much stricter regime of security, even before check-in then everything else is like trying to repair a heart attack with a plaster. We need serious profiling of passengers before check-in by governemnt employees who have access to sensitive intelligence information. The rest of the normal security we have will then act as a second line of defence. In my opinion far too much effort is being spent on 'appearing' to be doing something and does little to prevent a hijacker from getting on board. In this instance, an armed sky marshall would be a last line of defence.

Can you imagine how embarrasing it would be if there was another attempted hijack now but no sky marshall on board? Consider the odds of being on a flight that is hijacked, what are the odds of that flight will have a sky marshall on board even if there are 100 of them? I still think I've got a beter chance of winning the lottery.
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Old 20th Dec 2002, 08:29
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men in dark suits havent come yet, so here is another one:

What happens on a stopover, where the officer is not authorised to possess a personal weapon? Does he leave it in the A/C?

To me, a skymarshal has to be part of the crew. Fine, they can be a police officer or soldier, but I think they would have to be on something like a 3-4 year secondment, and cabin crew training would have to take into account actions and reactions on a threat being established.

And another thing - it is only in exceptional circumstances that we deploy armed police officers on their own. So thats TWO seats per a/c please.

Its funny, but common sense rarely prevails. Some forces are starting to cotton on to the idea of providing armed escorts to cash in transit to cut down on armed robberies. Didn't take a rocket scientist to work that one out.

Armed officers on aircraft are a good idea, but the manual will have to be about as thick as a Littlewoods catalogue, and embrace a fully thought out and integrated approach
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Old 20th Dec 2002, 14:32
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We have to accept that "decisions" such as this are taken on the basis of whether the government can then appear to be "doing something" in the popular press, whether it will get the minister in the news, etc. Anything dressed up as "safety" is a surefire way to avoid criticism because they can then just say any critics oppose safety. Spending £1bn (of our money) makes the govt appear to be 10 times more safety conscious than spending £100m on it.

Whether it's a good, bad or downright lunatic idea is neither here nor there.
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Old 20th Dec 2002, 14:45
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It's obvious that many of our armchair "experts" here have absolutely no idea of how the air marshall program works or the tactics involved. They do have a computer and know how to use it to display their ignorance.
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Old 20th Dec 2002, 14:55
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It would be all too easy for unarmed terrorists to overcome an Air Marshall and then use his fire arm to take control of the ac, provided they can spot him/her.

Any fire arm in the cabin is extremely dangerous

I would have thought that, as many of the pilots in charge of civilian airliners will be ex-military, we could arm them instead. At least they are behind the secure cockpit door.

If terrorists new that they would be facing armed resistance from the cockpit, if they tried to take control, they might think twice (or more) about attempting it.
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Old 20th Dec 2002, 18:40
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In the 'Mail' today by the transport editor is a harmless article about the proposal for sky marshals; that is until the fellow returns from lunch to finish it off.

Tony Blairs official spokesman said "These people will be specially trained. This is not taking a bobby off the beat and putting them on the airplane".

Like on El Al flights, marshals may use panic buttons in their seats to warn the flight deck of any trouble. If the pilot receives a warning signal they would roll and dive the aircraft to overbalance anyone standing. Oxygen masks would drop simultaneously to the sky marshals seat only, giving them an edge over a hijacker.

Presumably after rolling and diving the 'pilot' would then 'pull through' to assist in the 'overbalance' of anyone standing.

As a pilot of average ability, I think the only thing I would do after 'rolling and diving' would be to 'follow through'
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