Select Page

Great catch – from Thornbird..@ Aunty

Often wondered if they’d left the cockpit doors as they were, would this accident have happened.   I always thought the old doors were break inable so that if the pilots were incapacitated after an accident emergency crews could get to them. I guess now with a fortress cockpit they will be left to fry.
Interesting article from an experienced airline jockey.

“I tend to switch off after accidents until someone sensibly in authority says something factual, i.e. an official accident investigator. This usually takes at least 18 months to 2 years after the event. This preserves my sanity and “media anger” as the usual crackpots, conspiracy theorists and the myriad of “experts” are rolled out, one by one or sometimes even together to promote their particular product, which can range from anti-cyberterrorism consultancy to new types x-ray machines, scanners, profiling methods or often just themselves.

Isn’t it interesting how the “official” in France is a “prosecutor” rather than a spokesman for the BEA? Such is the screwed up system of legal intervention into the ICAO recommended procedures for accident investigation that exists, even in the western world.

So where does that leave us? After 9-11 when the knee-jerk enforcement of hastily securing flight decks was introduced, along with the multi-billion security facade at airports designed to prevent aircraft crashing through deliberate intent, we have an aircraft that has crashed through . . . well . . . deliberate intent. Damn. Never saw that being a possibility.

Or did we . . .? After this securing of cockpit doors many pilots said (but did not publish on open forums for obvious reasons) that hijacking an aircraft and crashing it was still easy for those with malicious (or suicidal) intent. Why look at ways of getting through airport security with bombs and weapons when in 2-3 years you could have a trained a cadre of qualified pilots employed by airlines throughout the world? The rest then becomes so easy, as this incident has demonstrated. Sit up front, wait for colleague to take a pee, secure the door internally then go and kill some people. Simple. Foolproof. Risk free.

Now the security “experts” who designed the current systems will have to go back to the drawing board. To help them out though, and if any are reading here, I’ll give them a few conundrums for starters, just to entertain their grey matter over the weekend.

1) Making a flight deck door secure from the outside means it has to be totally secure from the outside. (They certainly did a good job there).

2) Once you fit measures to override this security which can be operated from the outside, then you’ve no longer achieved no 1 above. In which case you may as well replace the door with a curtain. Someone will find a way to use the “external method” to get in.

3) By “the outside” I also mean outside of the aircraft itself, just to shut those up who think it could all be overridden from the ground whenever necessary. If it can be overridden from the ground then the malcontents don’t even have to board a plane to crash it, just gain access to wherever the magic switches are kept or, easier still, train as an Air Traffic Controller where those switches are likely to be within easy reach. (Jim & Doug, I’m not saying ATC is “easy” but it’s easier for ne’er do wells to take this route. They’ll have plenty who’ll make the grade and get jobs in Tracon, NATs, Aena or wherever. Just like those who trained as pilots in 9-11).

4) More profiling for pilots? Nice thought but medically there are no reliable tests for acute mental illnesses or suicidal tendencies that could be practically applied before every flight. Even at periodic aircrew medicals the pick-up rate would be pretty poor. (Mind you, watch for a knee-jerk reaction here). Even high-functioning alcoholics can’t be reliably picked up with profiling questionnaires way but wait for the “experts” on TV claiming otherwise this weekend, if not today even.

5) Two people in the flight deck at all times? That’s the first knee-jerk reaction already in place and I suppose it at least gives the appearance of “doing something” to satisfy the passengers. Meanwhile Eric has already raised the awkward question of guns in the cockpit. Those with mental problems will easily qualify for the guns (see 4 above) so that’s your second person in the cockpit quickly taken care of.

6) But who needs a gun anyway? Since 9-11 they’ve been stripping us untrustworthy pilots of knives, scissors, or 101 mls of any liquids including shampoo, deodorant, yoghurt, contact lens cleaner or whatever, just to stop us from using these dangerous items to deliberately crash our aircraft (rather than use the controls when the other guy is out taking a pee. See 1 above or any news pictures of the French Alps). The second person who is now forced to be the suicide/Al Qaeda/ISIS watch in the flight deck will probably be a flight attendant and also female, so she will find herself being the first person killed by the fire axe that’s in every commercial airliner’s cockpit.

7). The fire axe? Ah, didn’t we tell you this? Sorry. Every commercial airliner has a large, heavy and razor sharp fire axe on the flight deck to help cut out panels to escape or locate the source of a fire on board. It’s a regulatory requirement. A “no go” item in the MEL. A pilot must fly without his leatherman, scissors, yoghurt and deodorant but not without the cockpit fire axe which will easily split a skull or sever a limb in a single stroke. We pilots argued this logic after 9-11 when being stripped of our dignity and yoghurt pre-flight and mentioned we still had the fire axe on board, but the experts told us to shut the **** up, stand still and just hand over the 101mls of raspberry yoghurt and our Right Guard.

8) They could look at profiling again but hasn’t here been a resistance to profiling people outside of Israel? Better the lame 85 year old with a catheter bag gets the full search, along with her pilot, than the young, fit looking male of questionable origin with a “f*** the west” logo on his T shirt. It saves offending anyone. I’m also pretty sure the EU and U.S. anti-discrimination laws will defend the rights of the young co-pilot who is fairly introverted, still lives with his mother and hasn’t had a girlfriend for five years, or the 50+ year old recently divorced captain who’s just seen his house go to his ex-wife and his life savings disappear on some Goldman Sachs Ponzi scheme linked to the avocado futures market.

Well, I think those 8 points should keep the airline security “experts” pondering over the weekend. I look forward to their next thrilling proclamations on Monday. Meanwhile, think of me when my FO next needs a pee at 37,000ft. At least now I’ll have someone to talk to so I hope it’s that pretty new girl who hasn’t yet heard that my wife doesn’t understand me (probably owing to my interest in avocado futures stock), or one of the guys who likes real ale and football and won’t mind me swearing.

Finally, if you read about a 50+ pilot walking out of his A320 flight deck carrying a fire axe because he “felt safer knowing where it was” then you’ll know it’s me and why.”