AGM100
Topic Author
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Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 2:38 am

This weeks AW&ST has an extensive article covering civil/transport aircraft protection from shoulder fire and more advanced launched enemy missile systems. Besides all the technical issue how do you feel about all this. I personally do not worry at all about hijacking or onboard bombs , but AA weapons scare the S*** out of me.
Questions:
1. How would the flying public react to a "shoot down incident" say a Major operator like United , British airways ,AA, Air France.

2. Does the fear of AA attack cost the industry to much money to comply with protection systems.

3. How will the public react if they know that Airlines are installing IR/Chaff protection system.
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c172heavy
Posts: 105
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:05 am

Not to answer any of your 3 questions, but I wonder if any IR/chaff system would do any good. I mean, you'd have to know that you'd been shot at first, so a threat receiver would have to be installed as well ($$$).
Even if you managed to pump out some flares or chaff, the a/c would have to be maneuvered. Violently. I don't know if an A-340 or 747, for example, could handle the kind of jinking required.
And considering that they'd probably come under attack during t/o or landing, when close to the ground (as most shoulder-launched missile systems are designed for), I don't think there would be enough room to be turning crazy eights.

I'm sure that to any non-aviation-minded person, though, it sounds like a good idea.
"How's that working out for ya?....Bein' clever?"
 
LoungeLover
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:09 am

I totally agree with you C172!

IR/Chaff is only one counter-measure for a missile attack. The second one being maneuvering away from the incoming missile.

How are you supposed to do that with a wide-body, or even an A320? May it be close to the ground or in the air?

I know some pilots are ex-fighter pilots, but a 747-400 ain't no Tomcat or Hornet!!
 
LY744
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:14 am

Manouvering would help an aircraft avoid being hit but is not ecessary to counter a SAM threat. Furthermore, it is unrealistic to expect that a jetliner (and its pilots) would have the capacity to perform proper evasive manouvering.


LY744.
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bennett123
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:31 am

AGM100

I think that IR/Chaff protection would worry passengers, but having a plane shot down would really them.

I do not know what the G limits are for a B744, however if there was a near miss, or a late abort/go round then they would have to pull a few G's.

Regardless of the strain, manoevering has to be better than being hit.

An Alitalia DC8-43 was hit by a SAM on 26 June 1970 near Damascus, not only did it land safely, but I believe that it was repaired. (Flights of Terror ISBN 1 85260 512X).

I believe that an A300F made an emergency landing at Baghdad in 2003 after a SAM hit.

Clearly, some of these planes are stronger than they look.

 
SafetyDude
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:35 am

"Airliners" had an article on "The SAM Threat" a little while back. The article mentioned that El Al is the only commercial airline to have anti-missiles (or something similar) on their planes.

It was quite an interesting article.

-Will
"She Flew For What We Stand For"
 
AGM100
Topic Author
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:52 am

I think the most dangerous altitude position would obviously be approach and departure. I do not have much information but it seems to me that onboard counter measures would not be that effective.
Safety Dude: I think you are right about the ELAL installation. Since the Arkia Nairobi 757 incident I am sure they are doing it.
How long will it be till it is mandated by the reg authority ? Will it take a major incident ?
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AC861
Posts: 43
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:00 am

What about some form of electronic jamming system? It would likely be massively expensive, and wouldn't do any good against older "dumb" missiles, but should be able to confuse something like a stinger or it's Russian counterpart.
 
AA717driver
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 5:46 am

Many military aircraft employ passive IR jamming. Shoulder launched missiles are not the most sophisticated hardware around. Even when they score a direct hit on an aircraft the size of an airliner, the damage can be substantial but not necessarily fatal. A near miss would probably not bring it down.

I believe the area of greatest vulnerability is the lack of self-sealing tanks and not enough hydraullic fuses. JMO.

Electronic Countermeasures wouldn't be necessary because at best, shoulder-launched missiles are optically tracked to get the IR seeker in the ballpark. No radar guidance or acquisition is used.

Boy, wouldn't the NIMBY's love flares and chaff raining down on them? Big grin TC
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todaReisinger
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:32 am

The article mentioned that El Al is the only commercial airline to have anti-missiles (or something similar) on their planes.


It was "believed" for many years that El Al planes were equipped with anti-missiles systems; it was part of the "secret" security measures of the airline. But actually, the first El Al plane ever to be equipped with such a protection (and only on a test basis....) was a 767 in June 2004........I don't know if more planes are going to be outfitted with the system (I think it is FlightGuard).

It is very frightening that El Al planes were actually not at all protected against missiles attacks; the threat is absolutely not something new: an El Al Constellation was shot down over Bulgaria in 1955, and there have been attempts to attacks El Al jets with missiles in Rome and Nairobi in the 1970s already.


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DfwRevolution
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:40 am

How are you supposed to do that with a wide-body, or even an A320? May it be close to the ground or in the air?

Easier than you might think... commercial aircraft are suprisingly manuverable even at low speeds

IR/Chaff is only one counter-measure for a missile attack. The second one being maneuvering away from the incoming missile.

An IR jammer uses a modulated laser beam to fool the missile into flying away from the aircraft. Unlike flares and chaff, there isn't a huge need to juke a missile once a countermeasure is deployed.

And considering that they'd probably come under attack during t/o or landing, when close to the ground (as most shoulder-launched missile systems are designed for), I don't think there would be enough room to be turning crazy eights.

Is that any different than an engine explosion or control failure right after take-off? While a DC-10 might not take well to an engine failure and detachment, modern aircraft are built to be very surviavable because of events like AA 191....
 
spacecadet
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 2:15 pm

Is that any different than an engine explosion or control failure right after take-off? While a DC-10 might not take well to an engine failure and detachment, modern aircraft are built to be very surviavable because of events like AA 191....

You're assuming a bit too much. There's only so much you can do in redesigning airplanes to be physically tougher, because of things like weight and fuel efficiency. Aircraft were not redesigned the world over because of AA 191; that was a maintenance issue mostly, not a design issue (the only design issue noted was the flange clearance on the DC-10-10, which made it more prone to being jammed up into the wing than the same flange on the DC-10-30).

It's possible for an airplane to survive being hit by a missile, as the DHL airplane flying out of Baghdad a while ago proves (search for the pics here). I believe it was an A300 though, so not a new plane. It has nothing to do with whether an airplane's a new design or not - just how it's hit and how the pilots respond. It comes down to luck. Remember that AA 191 could have survived too if the pilots only knew what to do in that situation - the plane only crashed because the pilots retarded the throttles (as they were taught to do in an engine failure on takeoff).

An uncontained engine failure is by itself an extremely dangerous thing, depending on where that shrapnel goes. Airliners are still designed with the hydraulic systems for the flaps and slats in the wing - they have to be, because that's where the flaps and slats are, no way around it. They have backups, but the DC-10-10 had backups too and they didn't help in that particular situation. It again depends on how and where the shrapnel hits and what the pilots then do.

When you add in the explosive force of a missile, you're really talking some major destruction. You will definitely lose some control surfaces. You may lose an entire wing depending on where the missile hits and how big of a warhead it is. This is true whether the airplane is new or old. Again, still a chance for survival, but I wouldn't bet on those odds.

Someone asked what the public would do if a major airline lost a plane due to a missile hit - well, I fear that's what it's going to take before there's any real movement towards getting anti-missile systems installed on passenger airplanes. It has been attempted before and it will definitely be attempted again; we can only hope the next attempt is also unsuccessful but that the public outcry will finally be great enough to do something about the threat.

btw, I agree that airliners can be surprisingly manueverable. I have read of cases of even 747's pulling 5G maneuvers (not usually on purpose). The experience you have when flying as a passenger is intended to be as comfortable as possible so pilots are trained (and auto-pilots programmed) to maneuver such that the passengers can barely even feel it. But airliners can really pull when they have to. The weak link, though, is the power in some airliners - pull a high-G maneuver and you'll bleed speed very quickly. And it's not like these planes have F-15-like thrust-to-weight ratios to get that speed back.
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c172heavy
Posts: 105
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RE: Civil Aircraft Missile Protection

Fri Aug 27, 2004 11:30 pm

Sorry, AGM100, for steering the conversation away from your original questions. Here's my answers:

1) They would freak out. Not as bad as after 9/11, but airline traffic would fall off again. Many people who fly now (particularly in the States) have a "plan" of trying to thwart terrorists who hijacks an airliner. There's not much a paying passenger can do against a missile but hold on.

2) Definitely. Airlines are just getting back on track, financially, for the most part. They don't want to spend money on things they don't think have to.

3) Most people would think it's a good idea. You could hang a refrigerator off a wing, tell everyone it's a flare/chaff/jammer pod and they'd feel a little relieved.
"How's that working out for ya?....Bein' clever?"

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