Airline Safety

The problem of airplanes being hijacked and used as weapons was solved at 10:03 AM on 2001-09-11 over a field in Shanksville, PA. ‘Average’ Americans figured out the security equation just more than an hour after the first plane hit Tower 1. Everything since is a distraction.

The specific problem that’s supposedly being solved by Airport Security is using airplanes as weapons. That one’s been solved – you can’t do that anymore if you’re a hijacker.

But, what if you’re a hijacker who doesn’t want to use the airplane as a weapon? Everybody is still going to think you do. So they’re going to rush/kill you, probably before you even get to the cockpit. I agree that the hardened cockpit doors were a good idea, which is why the Israeli airline has had them for decades. But we have them now, let’s move on.

The only thing you can do to an airplane now is blow it up. But, you don’t even need to do that by suicide if you don’t want to, so why would you? If you’re a sociopathic maniac wouldn’t you rather live and extend your reign of terror? In the US we have a policy against negotiating with terrorists, so you can’t hijack to have demands met for release either. So, curiously, the 9/11 attacks dried up hijacking as a viable means of anything.

But to bring home the point, there have been hijackings for decades before 9/11, even bombings (Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie and perhaps TWA-800), and we didn’t implement draconian searches after that. There was more reason at the time – nothing you can do can ever fully prevent these things, terrorists aren’t stupid (they’re doctors and engineers – at least some of them) and this kind of chicanery just wastes everybody’s time and money. So long as a terrorist can take one up the wrong way and get binary explosives onboard, there’s a hard limit on how safe air travel can be. Even at that, planes can’t handle all weather, and life isn’t a risk-free proposition.

Meanwhile, if you’re in any number of professions which require even occasional air travel (or even a leisure traveler), the Federal government is infringing on the Fifth Amendment prohibition against being deprived of liberty without due process of law. The due process of law, and Hamilton was very specific about this, is a trial by a jury of your peers, and the liberties are derived from ‘natural law’, as described as ‘the law of the land’ in the Magna Charta, and inherited by our system. Let’s not be coy – at these ‘security’ checkpoints you are being detained by the government, they’re just letting you go quickly if you cooperate. If you don’t cooperate your detainment will be longer.

Travel by air is the de-factor standard method of travel in the US for many businesses, and many would not be able to maintain their living without it. For those who answer, “just drive”, this would be analogous to a practice at the founding of our country where your wagon was subject to search and seizure if it were on a road, but the government would tell you, “stop complaining, you can always walk through the woods.” That would have been considered just as reprehensible then as it is now.

Truthfully I’d love to see a private-sector implementation of a ‘safe airline’. There would be no carry-on luggage, pockets would be empty (standard-issue clothes would be best), and everybody would get an MRI on the way in to look for internally concealed weapons.

I think it would go out of business. Quickly.