Qantas Airbus A380 with Sydney in the background. Often the A380 flies from Sydney to Singapore.
No, there wasn’t a Jedi master flying on Qantas flight QF31 from Sydney to Singapore. However, there was a man who appeared to be high on drugs and/or alcohol who thought he could crash the plane using his mind. Passengers around the delusional man stated he wanted to bring down the flight using only his mind. Although the fear of it actually happening was low, the flight attendants took no chances and cuffed the man’s arms and legs for the remainder of the flight.
Like most people who end up in cuffs during flight, the gentleman was met in Singapore by police.
From the beginning I have been against airport body scanners. Not only because of the privacy aspect, but they just don’t work effectively. I have been watching closely the development of the body scanners, which are starting to be used around the world, and problems are already popping up.
Probably the biggest issue is that the body scanners can easily be avoided. Stephen Frischling recently looked how even the very best security is no good, if someone wanting to do harm can just circumvent it.
Kathleen Petrowsky, the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Director at Chicago O’Hare Airport, first stated it would be mandatory for all passengers to be scanned with the body scanners. However, after making that statement, Frishling received a reply from the TSA’s blog team stating, “Imaging technology is optional. No plans to make it mandatory’¦ Anything else you read is incorrect.” Frischling confirmed this with the TSA’s Public Affairs unit that the scanners would be optional. Passengers who do not want to be scanned would be able to have a pat down instead.
Hmm. We are told that pat downs are not affective enough at stopping terrorists; so we need the body scanners, yet they are not required? What would stop someone who wanted to do harm to request a pat down? Not to get too graphic but there are a lot of places someone could hide something they don’t want found. At about $150,000.00 a pop is this really a good investment?
Does this mean I am advocating the body scanners be required? No way! Putting the fact you can avoid them aside, there is still the issue of privacy. JetBlue’s BlueTales blog recently reported about a security agent who made a sexually charged remark about a passenger who accidentally walked through a body scanner at London Heathrow Airport. He stated, “love those gigantic ****” (click here for the actual wording) when the 29 year old female passenger walked through.
The machines are designed well and they do a good job. The weak part are the people. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of TSA workers are great workers and do a wonderful job. But you only need a few people to screw up a whole process. Yes, in America the TSA will be in a remote location reviewing the scanner images so passengers won’t have to hear if they make any inappropriate comments.
I really think it has to do more with security theater than anything else. It costs a lot of money, we are already seeing the privacy issues and it can be avoided all together, so what is the point? If passengers don’t feel safe, they won’t fly. These machines make most passengers feel safe even though in reality they aren’t any safer. Is it more important to spend money on safety you can see or safety that works?
John F. Kennedy International Airport's control tower with a few jetBlue Airbus A320's in front
Ah, “Bring Your Kid To Work Day,” is a classic. It is nice that your children are able to see what mommy and daddy do all day and your co-workers get to meet your little ball of joy you talk about so much.
However there are some jobs that it might be best for your child to skip visiting. On the surface it might seem harmless to bring your child to work if you are an air traffic controller. Maybe during your time off you can show him the view, let him see those big radar screens and listen to some of your co-workers in action.
Well, one traffic controller at JFK wanted his kid to get the full experience and let him talk to pilots. On a recording found on Gadling, it is quite clear the child is talking directly to the pilots, being assisted by his parent. The pilots don’t seem too put off by this, but the FAA sure isn’t amused.
An FAA spokesperson stated, “Pending the outcome of our investigation, the employees involved in this incident are not controlling air traffic. This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees.”
Sure, this might have been a little more “fun” at a smaller airport directing Cessna 172’s, not at JFK, directing large Boeing 747’s. I know I would feel a bit more comfortable knowing there aren’t children directing my next flight out of JFK.
TSA not up to the job. Check on the Image link below for the story on this picture!
Is the TSA going crazy? Yes! At least in my opinion. I won’t get into how silly it is for me to take off my shoes every time I fly because of something someone tried to do eight years ago. That seems kind of old school now. I think I should talk more about the recent developments.
If you haven’t heard already, on Christmas Day, a man tried to blow up Delta Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. Long story short (not to down play the incident), the man tried to detonate explosives on the plane that were sewn into his clothes. Luckily, it failed, passengers were able to restrain him, and the Airbus 300 with all 278 people aboard was able to land safely. The man claims al Qaeda connections, but those have not been confirmed.
Yes, someone trying to kill almost 300 people is a HORRID act and should not be glossed over. However, having a bad knee-jerk reaction is not the right move. Homeland Security and TSA announced some pretty crazy rules after this incident. These rules were made just for international flights coming to the US and here are a few of my favorite:
* Passengers were not able to get out of their seats during the last hour of flight. This makes little sense to me. If someone wanted to blow up a plane, it would be easy to do it any other time. Yes, terrorists want to make the biggest scene possible and exploding a plane right before landing, but I doubt this rule would stop someone from blowing up or hi-jacking a plane.
* Disabling of all GPS systems on aircraft. Many international aircraft have in-flight entertainment systems (IFE) with a map showing where the aircraft current location. If an airline cannot disable the GPS separately from the IFE, the whole system must be disabled. That means if you paid more to fly on an airline with a great IFE, you won’t be able to enjoy it. This seems like one of the craziest rules, because: #1 someone could bring a portable GPS system, #2 you can have a basic idea where you are by simple math, #3 just look out the window.
* Passengers are being frisked more. TSA is telling passengers to expect to be patted down at the gate before boarding. On the outside this seems like it might actually help, but the most recent terrorist had the explosives sewed into his clothes. I also don’t appreciate being patted down by some stranger to go visit my family.
Already the TSA is backing down on some of their requirements. TSA is saying that airlines can once again use their IFE and passengers do not need to stay seated during the last hour of the flight. Doesn’t the fact that the TSA is loosening their restrictions show even they realize this was a knee-jerk reaction and doesn’t provide any real security?
Of course I do not want a plane to be hi-jacked or be blown up, but I am not willing to give up my personal rights, my privacy or have a huge inconvenience for a very, very, very low chance of something happening.
The reality is, if someone wants to blow up a plane, it is not that difficult. Look at this most recent incident; he had so many indicators, but was still able to get onto the plane. There are so many security holes, with a little effort and enough people, this can happen again, even with huge security reforms. I am not going to let this scare me into not flying and I hope it doesn’t stop you.