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This post was edited by markwu at 2014-3-16 17:32|
Indeed it is a challenging question. If cabin crew are to be armed with handguns, then they must be capable of using them under the stress situation of a hijacking. Example, a hijacker has a knife and is holding a passenger as hostage while the crew member aims a gun with trembling hands. At high altitude, a shot missed can depressurise the cabin; unless the pilot is ready to re-stabilize the plane, a tragedy can happen.
Secondly, if the crew are to be armed with handguns, all airlines must do so collectively. These days one can have code-sharing and transit flights so passengers from one country may get on their own national airline but halfway the journey transit onto the national airline of another country - if we want to use national policy on handgun allowance as a base to argue the point. This collective agreement will be hard to make because it will at the same time require all cabin crew to be armed to first undergo additional training and psychological assessment. Most airlines these days are under financial duress to cut costs.
Back to tasers. That was my first thought as well glancing the topic. However it has some problems too. One recalls one airport terminal security guards tasering a foreigner to death because he had acted oddly while not knowing a word of english; was it in Canada or the US?
Second, a crew with a taser is no match for a hijacker with a gun assembled from scan-undetectable ceramic parts and using deadly mercury-filled rubber bullets. It takes a few seconds for the taser to effect but an instant for the mercury to kill. Furthermore, faced with a standoff on almost equal weight, the hijacker may tip over in assessment and just shoot which increases the risk of breaking the objective of minimizing harm to all passengers.
So back to sky marshals. There are links to Non-Stop (2014) but then again not every airline can afford or can train sky marshals; Mr Neeson is an exception - personal problems but singularly dedicated.
Therefore this first question of whether to arm the cabin crews comes down to the need for a more holistic look at the entire spectrum of air travel security. What could be the fundamental foundation to think about this? The foundation is to try and move all security measures away from dependence on as many human beings as possible. Just as a modern plane has many inbuilt safety features, the security paradigm should be to make the ultimate decision-making of next course of action dependent on as few a persons as possible so that focus on plane and passenger security can be directed to focus on only the state of mind of a few people in the plane. Namely, the pilot and co-pilot - for at the end of the day, all lives on board depend on just two people.
Therefore, looking at the air inlets, a switch in the cockpit to gassify the entire cabin with a 20-minute knock-out gas that will immediately disable and send to sleep everyone inside the cabin, including the toilets and kitchenettes. When that switch is thrown, the gas mask function must be disabled.
This itself however presents some new issues. For instance, how inert will the gas be to passengers with pacemakers or heart conditions? What about infants who can only suffer lower dosages? What if the hijacker(s) have big lungs because their hobby was mountain climbing? What if they know beforehand that airlines have secretly agreed to this method and therefore they aboard the plane with some concoction of anti-incapacitation medication or oxygen mask of their own disguised as backpack pieces? One must also remember what had happened in the cinema theatre in Russia when the amount and concentration of knockout gas came to grief.
If we take a step back, hijacking has reduced considerably since the early 70's, with the exception of 911. Something the airlines had done since then must have been right. What may be done is just to reassess the situation and the measures taken and audit why people can get jaded after a while doing the same thing again and again, the stress and therefore the relaxed manner that arises when they have too many people on their hands, the need for constant psychological assessment of key security-mandated staff, and general security measures at terminals before people get on-board or when ground crew service cabins. That is, all the points where harmful devices can be put on-board.
Now, back to the pilot and co-pilot. I agree with ratfink that there must be a second transponder going on at all times; furthermore it must have its own power source impervious to any total breakdown of the plane's primary power source, including an inflight catastrophe; in addition, airline manufacturers must design and in-build some device on the plane that can automatically detect if a plane is going down - whether to sea or land - and within a certain height, self-releases a beacon that will send an international sos signal immediately to the nearest radar tracking stations; it would be the acme of airplane technology if that beacon is computerised enough to act like a black-box as well - remotely detecting and auto-recording the last few minutes of what is happening to the diving plane. In other words, a second proxy black-box falling safely to the site nearest the last record of the dropping plane that will act as pathfinder. Furthermore, that device should be located in such a place of the plane that in the event the plane explodes in the cabin, it is automatically released to drop vertically down to earth using inbuilt self-compensating gyroscopes. As it goes down it sends signals out on the incident, giving identity of the flight and location of the plane at point of explosion. This will narrow the search area later.
Therefore please answer me - why must there be only one black-box and inside a plane? If satellites can be controlled remotely, black box data can be fed remotely.
In fact, i would go so far as to say all commercial planes must be tracked real-time anywhere and independent of the pilot and copilot and navigator.
The chaos we are having in the tragedy of this moment could be because secondary tracking option was not available and the lack of definitive real-time information wasted too much critical time.
(i miss you all, except that nutcase messi)