Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 2:44 am

For what its worth, this article appears in today's Times.

AIRLINES are considering ending trips to the cockpit by children after 400 people were nearly killed when a mentally
ill man attacked the pilots of a jumbo jet at 37,000 ft.
British Airways said that it was reluctantly considering a ban on cockpit visits, most of which involve children, and
which help to relieve the boredom of long-haul flights.
Other airlines are also considering a ban or reduced access after the Kenyan student, who was suffering paranoid
delusions, burst into the cockpit of the BA aircraft. Paul Mukonyi was able to walk through an unlocked door, attack
the pilots, grab the controls and knock off the autopilot. Doctors in Nairobi have said that his illness made him
believe that his life was in danger and that he would be safer if he controlled the plane.
Unlike most American airlines, which insist that cockpit doors are locked in flight, BA locks the doors only on
take-off and landing. BA has already said that it is considering whether to lock doors at all times apart from when
access is needed by the crew. The company said yesterday that its internal investigation into Friday’s incident
would also cover the policy governing cockpit visits.
American Airlines said that for safety reasons it did not permit cockpit visits during flights, “as harsh as it may seem
to little kids”.
BA said that it would regret having to impose any ban or reduction in the number of visits. “Clearly, allowing public
access to the cockpit has to be controlled for safety reasons,” a spokesman said. “But it would be a shame if we
had to put an end to it full-stop. Many of our pilots were originally inspired to take up their careers after such
visits.” Trips to the cockpit are also a recognised way of reassuring anxious flyers.
South African Airways also announced yesterday that it was reviewing its policy of allowing passengers cockpit
access, in view of the BA incident. The airline is also reviewing procedures for dealing with unruly passengers.
“Because of the growing trend of disruptive passengers, the airline has started retraining its cabin crew to deal with
these situations,” a spokeswoman said. The airline was worried about the increase in violent and intoxicated
passengers, she said.
BA recorded 122 incidents of unruly behaviour in the financial year 1998-99. A spokesman pointed out that 41
million passengers were carried each year on BA flights. The airline says that drunken passengers are the main
South African Airways dealt with 14 incidents on its aircraft in 2000, only one of which involved a violent
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RE: Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 3:09 am

IMHO this is not the ultimate solution - the madman walked into the cockpit mostly uninvited.
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RE: Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 3:14 am

It's a shame that because of one persons very unusual actions, everyone elses enjoyment is spoilt.
Can't blame the bloke though (he had mental difficulties).

RE: Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 3:51 am

Seems that the issue is cockpit door locking protocol rather than visitors. Why not allow entry to the flightdeck, and simply lock the door unless someone is coming or going? My guess is that some airlines have been contemplating a change, and are using this incident to justify it. I also suspect that there may be residual fallout from the flightdeck videos of passengers (pretty females, no less!) on Egypt Air flights prior to the EA crash....It somehow makes me nervous knowing a pilot can invite anyone into the cockpit. Kind of reminds me of a rock star seeking out the groupies to be summoned backstage!
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RE: Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 4:07 am

It's a shame. Especiallly for the innocent people like me who want to see a cockpit of a superior airline like SIA.

Why can't we just sweep these people udner a carpet?
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
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First Hand Opinion

Fri Jan 05, 2001 4:34 am

I was just on a British Airways flight from PHL to LHR and back, and I visited the cockpit both times. I can tell you for a fact that the cockpit door was all the way open both times, and the first was during taxi and takeoff(an incredible view of Philadelphia at night, Atlantic City, NYC and BOS). Anyway, I think the inflight visits should still be allowed. I don't think there's anything wrong with them.
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RE: Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 1:50 pm

Maybe a system of pre-arranged approvals might work?

If I were ever to have a chance to do in-flight cockpit visit, I wouldn't mind having to set up my request before flight begins, so they might have chance to determine possible risks I would pose.

Now that might not eliminate all problems, but it may help... Just a thought....
COBOL - Not a dead language yet!
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RE: Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 4:26 pm

It's a sad state of the world in which we live, but that door should be locked and no one given access to flight deck unless operationally necessary. I almost fell out of my chair when I heard that BA still allowed that door to be open. I am quite frankly surprised that it took this long for an incident to occur. Sorry to say it, but if passenger safety is paramount for the airlines, they will make sure this door is always locked, and cockpit visits not allowed. As a matter of fact, after the recent Alaska Airlines incident were a man almost broke the cockpit door down, there are now studies at strengthing the security of the door.

Now I don't know about you, but I am not trying to get in there uninvited. I have seen what the crash axe looks like, and would not want to be on the receiving end should the crew use it to defend themselves. Maybe it is getting time to go to the Aeroflot practice of issuing the captain a sidearm.
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RE: Airlines Considering Ending Flight Deck Visits

Fri Jan 05, 2001 4:48 pm

The doors, when locked are simple to break down, it buys the guys in the cockpit time to get ready for the intruder. Just my 10 pence worth.
BTW, I think that airlines should keep cockpit visits.
When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
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Not In TAP/Air Portugal!

Sat Jan 06, 2001 12:04 am

Hey guys, don't be disapointed, at least in TAP you can always visit the cockpit, until HELL FREEZES OVER!!!
CV990, the Maserati of the skies!

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