Air Transport World

'Smile, you're on cabin camera': among the host of cabin antiterrorist security concepts, video monitoring of passengers is the only one that has caught on with airlines.(Security)

The 9/11 hijackings that launched America's global war on terrorism have led to more than two years of debate over what can and should be done to ensure the security of the passenger cabin and, by extension, the cockpit. So far, the only government-imposed requirement upon airlines has been a fortified cockpit door, although the US also has permitted, albeit reluctantly, the arming of airline pilots on a voluntary basis.

Several other ideas have been sidelined as too expensive, too complex, too dangerous or ultimately ineffective. Among them--in some cases still being debated--are redundant transponders, with one squawking the international hijack code if the other is turned off or tampered with; assisted recovery using EGPWS to take control and prevent an aircraft from entering a no-fly zone; military-style antimissile defenses such as chaff or flares, and nonlethal weapons such as stun guns for cabin attendants.

Boeing also has shown customers how to rewire the existing ground call system to contact the cockpit for enhanced crew alerting and has issued a service bulletin on modfying existing transponders to include a hijack mode; if the pilot punches in an alert code, it would continue transmitting to the ground using secure power and could not be shut off or redirected. In general, however, Airbus and Boeing report only scattered airline interest in any hardware investments in cabin or cockpit security without a formal government directive and technical standards. …

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