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Who Has Authority Police Or Pilot In Bomb Scare?

Tue May 02, 2006 2:42 am

This article bought up the interesting question - if requested by police for everyone to stay on board following a bomb scare who actually has authority - if the pilot states "no they are getting off because there is a possible immediate danger to the aircraft and the passengers lives" - does that over ride the authority of the police? Has any pilot had experience of doing something they felt was unsafe for them or their passengers by police request and how did they deal with it?

DUBLIN, Ireland_Budget airline Ryanair and Ireland's pilots association demanded Thursday to know why passengers were kept inside a grounded plane for 2 1/2 hours while British authorities searched it for a possible bomb.

But Scotland's Strathclyde Police defended the decision to keep all 167 passengers and five crew members inside the Ryanair plane during Wednesday's search of the cabin and baggage by explosives experts and sniffer dogs.

The aircraft was diverted by Royal Air Force jets to Prestwick Airport, west of Glasgow, after a passenger found a written bomb threat in a magazine. The threat turned out to be a hoax and all passengers arrived in Dublin 10 hours late - after each was photographed and interviewed by detectives.

"The decision to keep people on board was as a result of a full risk assessment carried out by Strathclyde Police," the force said in a statement. "At all times the safety and well being of passengers was a priority. If, at any time, an assessment was made that the passengers were in any immediate danger, they would have immediately been evacuated from the aircraft."

Pauline McAlester, a spokeswoman for Ryanair Holdings PLC, emphasized that the airline's preferred policy would be to get people away from a plane if a bomb was suspected of being on board. "It was at the insistence of the police and security authorities that the passengers remained on board," she said.

Ireland's independent commercial pilots organization pledged to investigate why the Ryanair pilots' reported demands for an immediate evacuation were rebuffed.

"The biggest concern I have is why people were left on that aircraft when there was a perceived threat," said Capt. Evan Collins of Ireland's Airline Pilots Association.

"Pilots have a statutory obligation to protect the safety of their passengers and crew," Collins said. "These pilots wanted to make a decision and were not allowed to do so."

When the flight that originated in Beauvais Airport, near Paris, finally landed shortly before midnight in Dublin, some of the passengers were crying and visibly angry. Among them were more than 70 Irish schoolgirls who had just completed a school trip.

"The crew were superb, and people weren't panicking," said passenger Charlie Fitzgerald of Belfast. "The pilot appealed and appealed to get us off the plane. He said later if a real bomb had been on board, we would have been blown up to high heaven. ... The whole thing was absolutely disgraceful.
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RE: Who Has Authority Police Or Pilot In Bomb Scare?

Tue May 02, 2006 4:14 am

that depends. if the airplane is in the air, then the pilot of course has control. on the ground, it's more the ground staff that takes over the situation in cooperation with the police. that's the case with my carrier, there are a certian number of people (myself included) trained to handle emergency situations according to the plans that our carrier has in place.
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RE: Who Has Authority Police Or Pilot In Bomb Scare?

Tue May 02, 2006 5:16 am

Read the thread on PPRuNe. Makes VERY interesting reading on the matter.  Smile
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RE: Who Has Authority Police Or Pilot In Bomb Scare?

Tue May 02, 2006 6:55 am

If I found a bomb threat written inside an inflight magazine, I would rip it out and tear it up in tiny pieces and throw it in the trash.

That incredibly long and boring pprune thread, with people endlessly arguing: who's in charge, the captain or ATC or the police or passenger initiated evacuation? Well, if I find the threatening note, I'm in charge, it's my authority. If I think it's a hoax, nobody will ever know about it.

If there's a bomb, we all die. If it's a hoax we don't. But I'm not going to spend 24 in detention waiting for police to figure it out.
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
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RE: Who Has Authority Police Or Pilot In Bomb Scare?

Wed May 03, 2006 7:33 am

Quoting Bobster2 (Reply 3):
Well, if I find the threatening note, I'm in charge

Gotta agree here but the self proclaimed safety holier then thou police are otw. Anyone wanting attention or actually having an agenda wont bury a note in some magazine. What a stupid idea, as if you would find it before something went off. On the other hand they may have got the high they were looking for given what happened to those on board.

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