March 27, 2015 11:30 am -

[su_right_ad]Rules put in place after 9/11 about entering a cockpit stood in the way of the Germanwings pilot being able to get back in and possibly save the day.

A leading aviation security expert has condemned the rules on cockpit access as a “knee-jerk reaction to the events of 9/11” – which, he says, enabled the Germanwings co-pilot to commit the mass murder of the 149 other people on Flight 4U 9525.
Philip Baum, the editor of Aviation Security International magazine, said: “From the moment it became apparent that the Germanwings flight had made a controlled descent… with no Mayday, one feared that either pilot suicide or a hijack was the cause. The ill-thought reinforced cockpit door has had catastrophic consequences.”

Andreas Lubitz used his expertise to lock the captain out of the flight deck of the Airbus A320. He knew that the procedures implemented since 11 September 2001 enabled someone on the flight deck to take total control…

After the terrorist attacks, airlines began to install reinforced doors. Costing hundreds of thousands of pounds each, they are intruder-proof and bullet-proof. The system includes a keypad that is intended to allow authorised crew to enter the flight deck if the pilots become incapacitated. But a promotional video made by Airbus demonstrates how easy it is to deny access even to fellow crew who know the emergency code.

With a flick of a switch, someone with ill intent can deny access for a minimum of five minutes. Given that it was several minutes after leaving the flight deck before the locked-out captain would have begun the procedure for gaining access, the co-pilot had time to carry out his plan to crash the aircraft.[su_fb]


D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

10 responses to Knee-Jerk Reaction To 9/11 Led To Mass Murder

  1. MIke March 27th, 2015 at 11:33 am

    the Rule is a good rule – what you are doing is risking 1 cleared person(in this case he slipped through the cracks) for 150 un-cleared persons with access to the cockpit.

    • Aielyn March 27th, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Consider three different scenarios.

      1. The current system is in place. A terrorist is on board, wishing to cause the plane to crash. The door gets locked. What does the terrorist do? a) Sit back down and wait to land. b) Try to force their way into the cockpit. c) Find another way to sabotage the plane. If you chose (c), then you are right.

      2. The current system is in place. The co-pilot has an unexpected heart attack while the pilot is in the toilet. Nobody can enter the cockpit. What happens? a) The plane crashes. b) The plane crashes. c) The plane crashes.

      3. Same as 1, but instead of the current system, they have a keycode entry with a safety code – if that code is entered, it alerts the cockpit that the person seeking entry isn’t a friendly, allowing the pilot and/or co-pilot to deal with the threat rather than being surprised by it. Does the terrorist have any more of a chance to get in and crash the plane? a) Yes, but the risk is minimal. b) No, not really. I don’t even think I need to provide an option (c).

      In other words, if instead of going for the knee-jerk reaction, they had thought about it, they could have designed a sensible security system that would work just as well while not putting lives at risk.

      You mention 1 cleared person vs 150 un-cleared persons. That’s not entirely true. There’s so many stages to catching any flight like this, that people are quite rigorously checked. Meanwhile, they don’t continuously check the pilot and co-pilot, which makes them natural targets for anybody wishing to achieve a result – that is, if terrorists want to cause a plane to crash, they’ll work to get the pilot/co-pilot in on it (if you think that no pilot would ever consider terrorist activity if given the right stimuli, then you don’t really have a good handle on human behaviour). It’s a lot easier than dealing with air marshalls, locking cockpit doors, and the rest of the passengers, not to mention security while boarding, etc.

      So rather than designing a brute-force approach to trying to deal with a problem that is relatively rare to begin with, why not take the time to come up with more elegant solutions that don’t have large and problematic flaws?

      • MIke March 27th, 2015 at 1:01 pm

        Scenario 1 – He will try but far less likely to be able to do anything with the plane in lockdown mode
        Scenario 2. Pilots undergo physical test certifying there health for flying
        Scenario 3. The reason for the internal lockdown is prevent a pilot from being tortured to reveal the key code for entry
        This is the best sysem

        • bpollen March 28th, 2015 at 5:15 am

          Scenario 2. A problem with that being a means of preventing this kind of scenario is that Lufthansa (owns Germanwings) relies on self-reporting or other employees narcing you out, and doesn’t do psychological testing. So, we have to rely on pilots saying “I’m much too f’d up to fly, so please take away my career!” While a depressed person contemplating mass-murder MIGHT turn himself in, relying on that unlikely event in order to ensure the safety of their customers and their employees and their property seems very short-sighted and callous.

      • Gindy51 March 27th, 2015 at 1:25 pm

        Or what the US does, a flight attendant enters the cockpit and waits for the other pilot to return. IN the instance of the recent crash they DID have a key code entry system but the copilot over road it. The door could have been physically opened by another human being.

  2. FatRat March 27th, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Need three pilots, one goes to the toilet and you have a backup pilot.
    Decent video on the door override.

  3. jstsmlbrlcnsrvtvguy March 28th, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Outstanding Monday morning quarterbacking job by this expert (or was he saying this all along?). Keep hearing “pilot suicide” when “pilot mass murder” seems more accurate.

  4. ChrisVosburg March 28th, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Speaking of knee-jerking, I note that Philip Baum has no actual suggestions for improvement of the system other than the vague “Yet again our focus on detecting prohibited items, rather than negative intent, emphasises the excessive attention given to terrorism and our failure to address other threats to aviation security.”

    Okay, so we should focus on “negative intent.” WTF does that even mean, in actual practice?

  5. ChrisVosburg March 28th, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    And speaking of solutions, or rather the lack of them, the comments at the Independent piece are a hoot. Arm the Crew! Arm the Passengers! Islamist Terrorists! Zionist Terrorists! Panic!

  6. ChrisVosburg March 28th, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Also, Popular Mechanics wonders: Could Plane Cockpits Be Too Secure?

    What’s especially interesting about this piece is that it was written over a year ago, in the aftermath of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.