Sky marshals: The ignorance makes me want to weep!


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Bruce in West Oz
January 2, 2004, 07:16 AM
Steve Creedy: Danger: this plane is heavily armed

January 02, 2004

The pommie pilots are right: a gunfight at the OK Corral on a crowded jumbo jet at 10,000m is a bad idea. Even taking into account special "frangible" bullets, which disintegrate as they hit a hard surface, guns should have no place in the passenger cabin of an aircraft.

It's a move the Government says is designed to boost public confidence in flying. It should come as no surprise, however, that not everybody sees the addition of six gun-toting marshals to the passenger list as reassuring.

Many in the aviation industry see sky marshals as a high-profile political move aimed more at proving to the public that governments are on the ball about airline safety than improving security itself.

The British Airline Pilots Association condemned the move and at one stage was threatening to ground planes if armed guards were on board.

It has backed off in recent days after reaching an agreement on issues, including legal liability in the case of a shoot-out and the types of guards and weapons involved. But it has not reversed its position that guns do not make aircraft safer.

That view is held privately and publicly by many in the airline industry, including umbrella groups such as the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, and the International Air Transport Association.

The industry believes ground security is the main line of defence and should be sufficient to prevent any weapon requiring an armed response getting on to a plane. This includes detecting weapons smuggled in pieces for later reassembly on the aircraft.

Some airlines even see the threat posed by guns on aircraft as greater than the risk of a terrorist or a disturbed individual gaining control of an aircraft. That act has been made much more difficult because aircraft have been fitted with toughened cockpit doors designed to prevent unauthorised access.

But having armed guards on board provides potential access to a far more dangerous instrument than any of the makeshift weapons a terrorist may otherwise be able to get past security.

As one industry executive noted: "Putting armed guards on a plane means the terrorists don't have to worry about smuggling guns on. They're already there."

A worst-case scenario where hijackers wrested guns away from sky marshals could result in many more deaths than an attack by someone with a makeshift knife.

Passengers may also be more reluctant to rise up against a gun-wielding terrorist than against someone bearing lesser arms.

Nor do the newly revealed frangible bullets mollify the critics. Frangible bullets pre-date the September 11 hijackings and were developed for environmental reasons -- they do not contain lead.

The bullets are made from mixtures of powdered metals to produce a high-density material that acts in many ways like the lead bullet it replaces. Important differences mean the bullet disintegrates when it hits a hard surface and consequently does not ricochet.

The Australian Government says the frangible bullets it is using will not pierce the fuselage or windows of the plane and cause the cabin to lose pressure. But this does not make firing guns in a crowded aircraft cabin acceptable.

Frangible bullets may not do the same kind of damage as notorious soft-nosed bullets but they are still deadly. In fact, a US army article written in 2000 quotes defence officials as saying the bullet is just as lethal as standard rounds.

At the end of the day, however, airlines and pilots are bowing to governmental pressure to introduce the armed sky marshals.

Australian planes have been ferrying armed domestic sky marshals with frangible bullets without incident since December 2001. (The same smoothness of operation cannot be said for the US, where there are reports of at least one lawsuit involving armed marshals and accusations that authorities recruited "cowboys".)

Qantas pilots say they will not object to the scheme's expansion to international flights.

Though they would still prefer not to have guns on aircraft they believe they had to be practical in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Yet there are still some of us who would travel more comfortably if sky marshals were armed with something more suited to the jet age than High Noon.

Steve Creedy is The Australian's aviation writer.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,8299657%5E7583,00.html

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NukemJim
January 2, 2004, 08:24 AM
So many falsehoods, so little time ( I've got to go into work )

Some airlines even see the threat posed by guns on aircraft as greater than the risk of a terrorist or a disturbed individual gaining control of an aircraft.

Let see if a terrorist gets control of an aircraft they can use it to kill thousands, if they get lucky or are very well organized 10k to 100k (depending on what they fly the plane into for example a Liquid Natural Gas carrier could produce an explosin that could be equivalent to a small nuclear weapon from my understanding.

If a gun causes the airplane to crash 100s die. If terrorists get control of the plane the goverment's plan is to send an air to air missle into the airliner killing everyone on board (and that is considered a "succesfull" intercept:rolleyes: )

Whic of the above scenarios is worse?

NukemJim

JimP
January 2, 2004, 10:05 AM
That's some pretty good thinking. I guess we should sit quietly in our seats and let them fly us into buildings and such. Much safer that way...:barf:

Waitone
January 2, 2004, 10:08 AM
Looks like there is a complete breakdown of logic and rationality down under

El Tejon
January 2, 2004, 10:19 AM
Like there has been an outbreak of common sense here in the States?!?!:D

The gun ignorant are ignorant whether in the US or in OZ.

Fly320s
January 2, 2004, 10:36 AM
The industry believes ground security is the main line of defence and should be sufficient to prevent any weapon requiring an armed response getting on to a plane. This includes detecting weapons smuggled in pieces for later reassembly on the aircraft.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to guarantee that. We have to trust someone.

Someone, somewhere has been blessed/approved/properly documented to legally gain access to the secure area of the airport without being screened for weapons and other illegal items.

My company has literally hundreds of people who meet this criteria. These folks are not required to go through security screening on a daily basis because of the nature of their job.

But, pilots still go through the screening even though we have total control of the aircraft.

I'm not suggesting that everyone or no one needs to be screened. I am very much in favor of armed personnel on board the aircraft as another layer of defense. I would like it even more if our taxes weren't paying for the defense of what really amounts to a private industry.

We can not have impenetrable defense in the aviation industry. We can have a multi-layered defense system for when someone does get through.

ravinraven
January 2, 2004, 10:40 AM
You know who I'm jabbering about. That KKK senator from West By-God Virginia.

In arguing against armed pilots, I remember this tower of intellectual merit standing in the senate a year or two ago and saying that pilots had to fly the planes and not engage in gun battles with the passengers. He was greeted by wild cheers in the senate and from this political-basket-case I know.

For some strange reason, too many believe that if we have armed pilots or sky marshalls, these people are going to whip their weapons out and shoot holes in whatever/whoever is available. This is the "gun control mentality" at its worst. They are saying "If you have a gun you WILL use it for some bad purpose."

The Aussies have banned guns and collected all of them in Aussie land. Therefore any article written there isn't going to get printed unless it is "anti-gun" as the above article is.

rr

TallPine
January 2, 2004, 11:16 AM
I would like it even more if our taxes weren't paying for the defense of what really amounts to a private industry.
Yep - banks hire their own security guards, why not airlines?

TANSTAAFL

armoredman
January 2, 2004, 11:18 AM
Idiot.

Smoke
January 2, 2004, 11:18 AM
The industry believes ground security is the main line of defence and should be sufficient to prevent any weapon requiring an armed response getting on to a plane

ANd we've seen how well that has worked, haven't we.

Aussies and Britons are the ones saying "No guns on planes", and how has their "No guns" policy worked on their crime rates?

I personally don't think there should be armed Sky Marshals either. I think every law abiding citizen with a CHL should be allowed to board a plane armed.

Smoke

7.62FullMetalJacket
January 2, 2004, 11:19 AM
I think that the more this is discussed in the "mainstream media," the better. We have a threat. We have increased ground security :rolleyes: , reinforced cockpit doors :scrutiny: , and finally, re-introduced guns as a tool to prevent hijackings :D .

The anti arguments are false: we know it and the media knows it. You do not bring a taser to a gun fight. That the gov. considers armed skymarshals/pilots as a solution means that armed persons are an effective counter to terrorists. If it is good on a plane, it must also, therefore, be good on all mass transit, and everywhere else too. ;)

TallPine
January 2, 2004, 11:43 AM
What I want to know is, why do the F-16 pilots carrry guns and air2air missiles? Won't that just escalate the situation ...?

:neener:

seeker_two
January 2, 2004, 12:14 PM
When a terrorist-controlled airliner crashes into the Sydney Opera House, I wonder if that reporter will be as sure of his position...:rolleyes:

TheeBadOne
January 2, 2004, 12:31 PM
A Pittsburgh woman is ringing in the New Year in a Minnesota jail after authorities charged her Wednesday with attacking an air marshal on a flight to the Twin Cities late Tuesday.

Dawn L. Sunday, 37, is also charged in federal court with interfering with a flight crew on the Northwest Airlines Flight 1057.

Federal Air Marshal Joseph Loftus wrote in a supporting affidavit that flight attendants moved the woman to an area of open seats in the back of the plane after passengers complained that she was being loud and intimidating. A flight attendant said she was intoxicated, he wrote.

When Loftus took a seat next to her to calm her down, Sunday told him that she was going to kill him, then hit him in the back and tried to choke him, he wrote. He handcuffed her and she soon kicked him, the affidavit said.

On the ground at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Sunday tried to bite a police officer and police had to tackle her at one point, Loftus wrote.

Sunday appeared in court Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janie Mayeron in St. Paul and was ordered held without bail. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.

News Article (http://www.startribune.com/stories/467/4296451.html)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I guess the author is correct. This article proves it.... :D

Linux&Gun Guy
January 2, 2004, 12:47 PM
Frangible bullets may not do the same kind of damage as notorious soft-nosed bullets but they are still deadly. In fact, a US army article written in 2000 quotes defence officials as saying the bullet is just as lethal as standard rounds.


Oh I get it we just want to make the terrorists very very mad not kill them.:rolleyes:

Yet there are still some of us who would travel more comfortably if sky marshals were armed with something more suited to the jet age than High Noon.

Guns today are the most effective way to kill people without hurting other people in the area and without costing very much or needing that much training. What does he suggest; a super blinding light laser?

seeker_two
January 2, 2004, 12:52 PM
Federal Air Marshal Joseph Loftus wrote in a supporting affidavit that flight attendants moved the woman to an area of open seats in the back of the plane after passengers complained that she was being loud and intimidating. A flight attendant said she was intoxicated, he wrote.

When Loftus took a seat next to her to calm her down, Sunday told him that she was going to kill him, then hit him in the back and tried to choke him, he wrote. He handcuffed her and she soon kicked him, the affidavit said.

Neat way for a terrorist to find out who on the flight has a gun. One good punch=instant hijacking weapon...:what:

And the pilots are just limited to harsh language & "impenetrable" cabin doors (unless the terrorists lean on them too hard)...:rolleyes:


Clarification: This doesn't mean that I'm against having armed personnel on flights. Quite the opposite: We need more than ONE person armed. 1 (or more) sky marshall + 2 armed pilots in the cabin + flight crew w/ access to stun guns or batons + the WILL for each person to use their weapon when necessary (+ firing Minetta, Ridge, & the TSA blissninnies) = SAFETY IN THE AIR.

Sorry for being vague...

mountainclmbr
January 2, 2004, 12:55 PM
Israel has armed marshalls on El Al flights. I have never heard of a gun being wrestled from their hands. The same arguement could be made for disarming the police or the military. I have never understood the "strength from weakness" arguement. I would rather have an air marshall fighting terrorists with a gun than wait calmly for the F-16 to shoot us out of the sky.

But, unarmed Australian or British flights may cause the terrorists to focus on those softer targets. Unless the hijacked flights strike the USA, it could make us safer here. I have never felt that a sheep being eaten by a wolf was anything but a natural occurrance. Neither did Mr. Darwin.

Spot77
January 2, 2004, 01:28 PM
Ground defense = no defense.

I drive through checkpoints at two international airports quite frequently.

I don't have any special I.D., and have never had any kind of background check done.

The ground defense? "Sir may I see your Driver's License? What's your purpose here today?"

And then I proceed to drive just about anywhere I want. I've parked under the wings of planes before. I've walked the runways, taxiways....you name it. It would be ridiculously easy for a terrorist to plant something on a plane.

What if Sky Marshalls had some sort of remote control that would release a sleep agent into the cabin's (but obviously not the cockpit's) air supply system? SHTF, and two minutes later everybody in the cabin goes nitey nite.
Could something like that work?

seeker_two
January 2, 2004, 01:42 PM
What if Sky Marshalls had some sort of remote control that would release a sleep agent into the cabin's (but obviously not the cockpit's) air supply system? SHTF, and two minutes later everybody in the cabin goes nitey nite.

Remember the Russian opera house that was seized by Chechan terrorists? The Russians tried that, and nearly 200 people died in reaction to the chemical agents used.

It's hard to find a chemical agent that won't have side effects. And only one person would have to die for some lawyer to start having wet dreams about the upcoming lawsuit...:banghead:

Cosmoline
January 2, 2004, 02:15 PM
Your average commercial jet actually has holes in it which would add up to a fist-size or larger hole. It is NOT sealed (thus they don't float so good). Rather, it is kept at positive pressure through a system of pumps constantly bringing air and 02 into the aircraft. Put some more .38 or .45 holes in the side and, even assuming you could penetrate, all you'll get is more air pumped in to replace the air going out. Modern aircraft are a lot tougher than people realize.

iapetus
January 2, 2004, 03:01 PM
What if Sky Marshalls had some sort of remote control that would release a sleep agent into the cabin's (but obviously not the cockpit's) air supply system? SHTF, and two minutes later everybody in the cabin goes nitey nite.


Given what happened in Russia, I think I'd prefer a well-trained marshal shooting the terrorists than being gassed along with them. (Especially as the terrorists might have some sort of gas-mask).

That said, it could be an extra line of defence just in case the marshals fail. It would still be preferable to crashing/ being blown up / shot down.


Incidently, I saw a documentary about the Russian theatre siege.

Apparently the gassing operation and assault was very well organised and effective, they got the hostages out with almost no casulties, and noone should have died afterwards.

What killed them was the lack of appropriate medical treatment afterwards, (either nothing, or in some cases, worse than nothing).

I think they talked about people being packed in ambulances (i.e. confined space with poor ventilation) and left there rather than being given oxygen, unconcious people not put in the recovery position, etc.

El Tejon
January 2, 2004, 03:40 PM
Cos, that's not what the James Bond School of Aeroengineering says.:D

TallPine
January 2, 2004, 06:11 PM
Does anyone else remember that there has already been a shootout on an airliner in flight involving a "sky marshall" ...?

I don't remember the year - would guess it was in the early seventies or late sixties.

There was a hijacking attempt in flight and the sky marshall shot the perpetrator(s?). I don't know if the fuselage was punctured, but at least one innocent passenger was hit by gunfire.

One of the wounded passenger(s) was the actor who played the Chinese cook on the TV show "Bonanza" - I remember seeing an interview of him in the hospital. He was glad to be alive and not at all upset that he had been wounded, he thought the sky marshall(s?) had done an excellent job and his injury was just one of those things that happen.

Actually, I think that might have been the last hijack attempt on a American airliner until 9-11-01. Not long before that, the airlines were practically running an unscheduled shuttle service to Cuba.

People are such wimps nowadays ....:rolleyes:

Don Gwinn
January 2, 2004, 07:37 PM
What's the big deal about soft points? I could understand FMJ penetration (since they're so afraid of penetration) and I've seen people talk about frangibles and hollow points being "too deadly" or "too devastating." But soft points?

Tag
January 2, 2004, 08:10 PM
but guys, WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

:scrutiny:

Fly320s
January 2, 2004, 11:51 PM
What if Sky Marshalls had some sort of remote control that would release a sleep agent into the cabin's (but obviously not the cockpit's) air supply system?

Won't work since aircraft have an open ventilation system. That means the majority of air pumped into the cabin is fresh air from outside the aircraft. Only 10%-50% of the air volume is recirculted depending on the aircraft and how the pilots are running the air conditioning system.
What's the big deal about soft points? I could understand FMJ penetration (since they're so afraid of penetration) and I've seen people talk about frangibles and hollow points being "too deadly" or "too devastating." But soft points?

Aircraft fuselages are built pretty thin and light. They need to be so the aircraft can still carry enough fuel, people, and bags to make the flight worthwhile and profitable.

The actual aluminum skin is roughly 1/8 inch thick in most places along the fuselage. The interior furnishings consist of the plastic panels that you see inside the cabin (the walls), insulation between the plastic and the aluminum, maybe some wiring or cables or plumbing, and evenly spaced aluminum ribs to give the plane a skeleton. If a person fires a gun at the wall of a plane, odds are that the bullet will hit a relatively thin area. I'll bet that a 9mm or greater-power round will zip right through the plastic wall, insulation, and 1/8 inch thick aluminum. It seems to go right through a two by four board.

I'm betting that the powers that be are trying to find a good comprimise round. One that will kill BG's with Hollywood-style regularity without being too damaging to the aircraft.

fallingblock
January 3, 2004, 06:54 AM
I come to THR to escape "The Australian" and it's pseudo-intellectual hoplophobes!;)

ravinraven is pretty much spot-on with his comment:

************************************************************
"The Aussies have banned guns and collected all of them in Aussie land. Therefore any article written there isn't going to get printed unless it is "anti-gun" as the above article is."
************************************************************

Friends and I have written many, many letters to "The Australian", in response to the never ceasing parade of anti-gun articles, and they go unpublished.
:banghead:

There is no outlet for pro-gun information in the mainstream Aussie press.:fire:

greyhound
January 3, 2004, 09:56 AM
Good grief, I thought the leftists at least believed that the "King's Men" could possess firearms, just not us peons.

Now they don't want some of them having them either?

Here's a solution (though not a realistic one:D ):

If the Australians don't want any of those eevviilll guns on their planes don't bring 'em into our country with their potential hijackers.

7.62FullMetalJacket
January 3, 2004, 11:39 AM
Fallingblock,

We here are aware of your plight. We call the second amendment the "First Freedom" because, without it, none of our basic human rights would be protected. That includes the first amendment here....the protections you are now being denied.

It is amazing how any "American" can watch what is happening in Australia and the UK (and even Canada) and still support gun control. What falling block is experiencing is the "tyranny of the majority point of view" where his views are not even heard in a free press. How sad. :mad: :fire:

Maybe GWB can liberate Australia next. After California, of course.

ceetee
January 3, 2004, 11:49 PM
From ABC re: British airliners. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s1019925.htm)


British Airways refusing to fly sky marshals: report


British Airways (BA) would rather cancel flights to the United States than be forced to carry armed sky marshals, a London newspaper reported on Sunday, citing an internal company memo.

BA "would not operate a single flight unless we were satisfied totally that it was safe to do so", a memo sent by the airline's operations director Mike Street said to colleagues last Friday and obtained by The Observer.

"If there is security information about a particular flight that gives us cause for concern, then we will not operate that flight," the memo reportedly said.

"That remains our policy regardless of the government's capability to deploy armed police officers."

US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge last week issued an emergency directive that foreign airlines put armed police on flights where US officials deemed there was a terrorist threat, a move backed by the British Government.

British Airways resumed a normal service between London and Washington on Saturday after grounding BA flight 223 to Washington for two days running, amid speculation about a September 11-style attack on the US capital.

BA also cancelled Saturday's afternoon flight from London to the Saudi capital Riyadh due to security concerns, along with the return flight on Sunday.

The airline said it had not yet decided whether to operate Monday's flight.

A spokesman for the union representing British pilots said BA's stance over sky marshals was expected to be followed by other airlines.

"We now believe sky marshals will never fly," a spokesman for the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) was quoted as saying in The Observer.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and BMI British Midland are the British airlines serving US destinations.

-- AFP

geekWithA.45
January 4, 2004, 02:48 AM
Many in the aviation industry see sky marshals as a high-profile political move aimed more at proving to the public that governments are on the ball about airline safety than improving security itself.



Actually, frisking grandmothers for their nail clippers pretty much achieves that goal. THAT is the empty ceremony of security.

Actually putting trustworthy armed Americans on the plane might actually achieve something, and diminish the need for the wand rape at the gate.


Some airlines even see the threat posed by guns on aircraft as greater than the risk of a terrorist or a disturbed individual gaining control of an aircraft.

ARE THEY FREAKING DERANGED?

{closes eyes, chants mantra:}

There is no virtue in helplessness.

Until a trustworth armed American is about every plane in our skies, all domestic security initiatives are pretense, posturing, and bullpuckey.

jimpeel
January 4, 2004, 05:05 AM
The Australian Government says the frangible bullets it is using will not pierce the fuselage or windows of the plane and cause the cabin to lose pressure. Which is the same as saying that a leather jacket with a couple of layers of Kevlar sewn into the lining would also stop one of these rounds.Some airlines even see the threat posed by guns on aircraft as greater than the risk of a terrorist or a disturbed individual gaining control of an aircraft. That statement is reminiscent of the woman, whose name I have forgotten; and deservedly so, who stated that if there had been firearms on the planes used by the terrorists on 9-11 it would only have made things worse. :confused: What if Sky Marshalls had some sort of remote control that would release a sleep agent into the cabin's (but obviously not the cockpit's) air supply system?The problem lies in the dosage. A 280 pound man vs a 120 pound grandmother vs a 12 pound infant.

The dosage to incapacitate the man would likely kill grandma and would definitely kill baby.

The dosage to incapacitate granny would leave the man drowsy but functional and, again, would kill baby.

Spot77
January 4, 2004, 09:42 AM
"The problem lies in the dosage. A 280 pound man vs a 120 pound grandmother vs a 12 pound infant.

The dosage to incapacitate the man would likely kill grandma and would definitely kill baby.

The dosage to incapacitate granny would leave the man drowsy but functional and, again, would kill baby."


There's the kicker.

I figured the mechanical logistics of delivering it could be overcome, but you raise a great point that would be near impossible to resolve.

iapetus
January 4, 2004, 11:00 AM
greyhound

Good grief, I thought the leftists at least believed that the "King's Men" could possess firearms, just not us peons.

Now they don't want some of them having them either?


But... but... that would be sinking to their level! If the police were armed, that would just encourage criminals to carry guns! And then the general public would want them too! Why can't we all just get along?

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