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Remote Control To Prevent Aircraft Hijacking 544

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fly-by-really-long-wire dept.
Snad writes "The UK's Evening Standard is reporting that Boeing plans to roll out aircraft remote control systems in a bid to eliminate the threat of terrorist hijackings, and prevent any repetition of the events of September 11 2001. 'Scientists at aircraft giant Boeing are testing the tamper-proof autopilot system which uses state-of-the-art computer and satellite technology. It will be activated by the pilot flicking a simple switch or by pressure sensors fitted to the cockpit door that will respond to any excessive force as terrorists try to break into the flight deck. Once triggered, no one on board will be able to deactivate the system. Currently, all autopilots are manually switched on and off at the discretion of pilots. A threatened airliner could be flown to a secure military base or a commercial airport, where it would touch down using existing landing aids known as 'autoland function'.'"
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Remote Control To Prevent Aircraft Hijacking

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  • by Lord Grey (463613) * on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:44PM (#18268472)
    Remote control systems should simply augment human control systems. In this scenario, the human control system is much more effective. Specifically, "passengers beating the living shit out of all hijackers."
    • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:48PM (#18268566) Journal
      Sorry, maybe next generation. This one isn't even tough enough to get hit with a rubber ball in gym class without crying and suing the school.
      • by pembo13 (770295) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:53PM (#18268642) Homepage
        And THAT is the real tragedy that so few seems to notice. What ever happened to fight or flight?
      • by Rakishi (759894) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:38PM (#18269276)
        United flight 93 would disagree with you, 9/11 happened because up to then almost all plane hijackings led to few if any casualties. If you cooperated then you'd all likely leave alive and if you didn't you'd likely be causing the death of 200+ people due to your own stupidity. As its been pointed out in other places, the problem is that there is a big difference between stopping terrorists in a plane and regaining control of the plane as again flight 93 illustrated. Contrary to some people terrorists aren't idiots (or geniuses) and its downright stupid to assume they'd even attempt to hijack a plane now instead of simpyl crashing it the first chance they get.

        This system would be a lot more effective than a passenger attempt to stop the hijackers.
    • How Brave you are when it is not you or your love ones who are under the gun, pun intended. The simple fact is that this sounds like one of the best ways to deal with hijackers. And once you have it in some aircrafts, let would be hijackers know that before they think about it. It removes their ability to use an aircraft as a weapon, though the passengers can be terrorized.
    • Specifically, "passengers beating the living shit out of all hijackers."

      Because that worked so well on the United 93 flight, right?

      Not saying I am for this system (way too much room for abuse imo); And I much rather opt for heavier enforced cockpit-doors and an inability for the pilots to open those doors for the entire flight.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SirWhoopass (108232)

        and inability for the pilots to open those doors

        That's absurd. With a system such as that, how are the flight attendants going to bring them martinis?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Exactly. If this system ever comes online then hijackers will simply plan and figure out a way to disable the system. Its easier said than done, and probably very costly, but if you get the right hackers you can break into (almost) any system. - Ayal Rosenthal
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kadin2048 (468275)
        Exactly. If this system ever comes online then hijackers will simply plan and figure out a way to disable the system. Its easier said than done, and probably very costly, but if you get the right hackers you can break into (almost) any system. - Ayal Rosenthal

        While this may be true, it doesn't mean that deploying such a system isn't worth it.

        What you're saying is exactly like "if we get a bank vault, the thieves will just plan and figure out a way to get into the vault. It's easier said than done, and proba
      • Exactly. If this system ever comes online then hijackers will simply plan and figure out a way to disable the system. Its easier said than done, and probably very costly, but if you get the right hackers you can break into (almost) any system.
        Funny... I'd think that terrorists would LOVE such a system... don't disable it, just co-opt it! You don't even need to be ON the plane to crash it into a target. If the system is hardwired (let's say it has pre-plotted landing locations, and picks the closest one based on GPRS signal), then there are numerous choices: 1) change out the module, 2) disable as mentioned above, 3) screw up the GPRS detection or transmission somehow. I'm sure there are other means I haven't mentioned.
    • Putting a strong lock on the cockpit door would probably be a cheaper alternative to remote controlled airliners.
  • Different problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:44PM (#18268494)
    Won't terrorists instead try and find ways to take over the remote control system? Why limit yourself to simply crashing one plane when you can crash them all.
    • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dr Kool, PhD (173800) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:49PM (#18268578) Homepage Journal
      No remote access allowed unless the pilot flips a switch in the plane.
      • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ResidntGeek (772730) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:52PM (#18268616) Journal
        No remote access allowed to a computer without the administrator password, either.
      • Re:RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

        by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:54PM (#18268646)
        No remote access allowed unless the pilot flips a switch in the plane.

        Or someone knocks on the door... hard.
      • by rubycodez (864176)
        and cars won't start unless a key is inserted and turned in the ignition or the button on the remote is pressed. don't BTFA just because you RTFA
      • So, the pilot flips a switch, and the autopilot takes over, and takes the plane to .... where, exactly?

        Let's presume that it was pre-programmed on the ground. So, at LAX, it will take the plane to some Californian AFB. So far, so good. But, if the hijacker comes in on approach to JFK, does this mean the aircraft then does a 180 turn and heads back?

        Fuel requirements may be to have 90min reserves, over and above what is required for the flight. So, this would have the plane run out of fuel 90 min after turnin
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Prof.Phreak (584152)
        No remote access allowed unless the pilot flips a switch in the plane.

        Now it just takes 1 person to try to tackle the door---and someone on the ground can take over the flight (assuming they're technically capable of it).
    • by flyingfsck (986395) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:06PM (#18268810)
      Hijackers simply start shooting passengers until they remotely fly him where he wants to go.

      Fanatics are irrational by design...
      • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:13PM (#18268916)
        The failsafe autopilot also disperses chloroform into the air supply. Just don't tell any terrorists, it's a secret.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dr.Flake (601029)
          I'm an anesthesiologist by profession.

          I'll have to agree that simply adding some substance to the air, and having everybody falling sound asleep is a little over simplified.

          First of all, chloroform is not that good for your health, there are multiple reasons it is not used for human anesthesiology anymore, but severe organ damage was the most convincing reason.

          The russians tried an opiate based drug, and that only proofed that for an adequate sedation, by opiates alone, the dose is so high, that severe resp
      • Thats fine (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KKlaus (1012919)
        No one cares if a plane is diverted to Algeria. They care if it's flown into the ground or a target, which is of course something the pilots will never do no matter how many passengers are killed, for obvious reasons. Seperating pilot from passenger accomplishes only one thing, but its a very important thing. Namely, it prevents the class of hijackings in which all passengers die, and those are the ones we care about.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by camperdave (969942)
          Seperating pilot from passenger accomplishes only one thing... it prevents the class of hijackings in which all passengers die...

          Not quite. It prevents the type of hijacking where the hijackers take physical control of the plane. It does not prevent the hijackers from killing all the passengers.
    • Re:Different problem (Score:5, Informative)

      by susano_otter (123650) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:13PM (#18268920) Homepage
      More difficult problem for the terrorists. Now, instead of just having to figure out

      a. how to hijack the plane
      b. how to fly it to the destination of their choice

      they also have to figure out

      c. how to override the remote control system

      This increases their planning overhead, their budget overhead, and possibly their coordination overhead. They also have to acquire more information from more sources, and possibly design, manufacture, and smuggle aboard additional equipment.

      It's certainly not a foolproof solution, but even a half-ass implementation will force would-be hijackers to escalate their own operations, to the detriment of their overall chances of success.
      • by Dr. Zowie (109983) <slashdot@@@deforest...org> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @07:43PM (#18270124)

        This increases their planning overhead, their budget overhead, and possibly their coordination overhead.


        No it doesn't. Instead of having to prepare and deploy dozens of suicide pilots, they can work in secret safety on figuring out the control protocol, and make the attack wirelessly from the safety of a suburban house.

        Just ask Captain Video...
      • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @07:58PM (#18270258)
        Unfortunately, it also increases OUR planning overhead, OUR budget overhead, and OUR coordination overhead. WE also have to acquire more information from more sources, and design and manufacture additional equipment.

        All to prevent an incredibly low probability attack. I doubt the serious terrorists still consider airplanes to be a useful target. Maybe only the crackpots that got kicked out of terrorist boot camp for being unable to complete a simple plan. They're moving on to newer, more accessible pastures. I'm much more worried about a ground-based plan to simultaneously blow up large numbers of people.
      • terrorist budget ? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bug1 (96678)
        "This increases their planning overhead, their budget overhead, and possibly their coordination overhead. They also have to acquire more information from more sources, and possibly design, manufacture, and smuggle aboard additional equipment."

        Are you expecting terrorist organisations to declare their activities are no longer economically viable and "fire" their employees ?

        Maybe they can file for bankruptcy protection to stave off the inevitable... /sarcasm

        Seriously, i doubt the extremists these systems are
    • by wall0159 (881759) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:14PM (#18268926)

      Didn't you read the article? It's "tamper-proof" and "uses state-of-the-art computer and satellite technology" - so terrorists won't be able to do that. You can sleep easy, little fella, there's nothing to worry about - us big folk have it all under control...

      (/sarcasm)
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:47PM (#18268524) Homepage Journal
    Why not autotakeoff as well, then we can just eliminate the human pilots altogether [marshallbrain.com] for nonmilitary aircraft?
    • Why not autotakeoff as well, then we can just eliminate the human pilots altogether [marshallbrain.com] for nonmilitary aircraft?
      "Keldan Control, this is Nova Queen. I have an unidentified trace on zero-four-zero." [beep] [slashdot.org]
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:54PM (#18268644) Journal

      then we can just eliminate the human pilots altogether for nonmilitary aircraft?
      Liability is the reason there will always be a human pilot in the cockpit of non-military planes.

      Liability is also the reason that the military's remote control UAV's have to have a human with their hand on the trigger.

      Anyways:
      1. I thought commercial auto-pilot systems already had the ability to be run from the ground.
      2. How does Boeing "secretly" patent "The so-called 'uninterruptible autopilot system'"
      • Autopilot systems that can take off and land large commercial aircraft already exist and are commonly used (they are called "CAT III" autopilots). If a pilot is feeling lazy, all he or she must do is program the flight computer and taxi the aircraft to the runway -- the aircraft will take off, fly, and land at the desired destination without any input from the pilot.

        This new system seems to be a way of locking-in the autopilot function so terrorists cannot manually fly the plane after the pilot triggers

        • by innot (582843) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @07:56PM (#18270242)

          While the parent was moderated Insightful I would like to point out that up to date no commercial Airplane can take off with autopilot. Take off is always done manually.

          Also, even on an Autoland the pilot has to perform a few tasks like extending the landing flaps and lowering the gear. Again no airplane that I know of has these under autopilot control.

          Besides, autoland for the pilots is far from leaning back and enjoying the show. Current autopilots are still limited in the operational envelope (max wind inputs etc.) and need a lot of working systems that a pilot can do without (landing signal receivers etc.). It is not uncommon for an airliner in normal operation to be restricted to "no autoland" because some subsystem is not performing nominally.

          Why these Limitations? Because certifying any automatic operation on an airplane costs lots of money which is not necessary as long as a pilot can perform these operations for "free".


          Disclaimer: I earn my living flying airplanes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CorSci81 (1007499)

        2. How does Boeing "secretly" patent "The so-called 'uninterruptible autopilot system'"

        Boeing has "secretly" patented all sorts of classified technology, as have most companies working in the Defense/Intelligence industries. The classified patent system has been in place for a while. Just because something is patented doesn't mean it's publicly available knowledge.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dbIII (701233)

        Liability is the reason there will always be a human pilot in the cockpit of non-military planes.

        Nice and smug above - but really automated systems are nowhere near where we would want them to be to make such a thing a reality. The simpler system of missiles of which a lot of resources has been expended is a good example - they don't always go where they are told. The F-22 dateline fault example should be enough to make a point. Pilots have training AND experience - a remote controlled plane can only

    • That is coming. Soon. What will happen is that aircrafts will be automated and flown via computer with exactly one pilot. It will happen within another 20 years, though most likely less than 10.
  • by Samalie (1016193) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:47PM (#18268538)
    All they need is a case of baseball bats on the plane. "In case of a cabin seizure, a small bat will fall from the ceiling. Take the bat, and beat the shit out of the hijacker until he is unconscious"
  • So instead of being physically on a plane, the new attack vector will be the remote control station.

    Good Work.
  • by tonywong (96839)
    Wouldn't a creative technology terrorist comprimise and activate this system and force a jetliner to land on the Whitehouse? The pilots can't override it and no need to get any hijackers on board at the time of flight.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:51PM (#18268602) Homepage

    1. Body-check door to activate auto-pilot function.
    2. Activate high-power jammer to prevent remote control of the aircraft. You're a lot closer to the receiver than any ground-based transmitters are, so the jammer's got a lot less work to do to drown out their signals.
    3. Wait for aircraft to run out of fuel.
    4. Buddies enjoy watching the world watch on in horror as hundreds of people wait for hours for certain death and nobody can do a single thing to prevent it.
    5. Buddies go on the air thanking the nice folks at Boeing and in the US Government for making this all possible.
  • what if... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:52PM (#18268626) Journal
    what concerns me is: 1) it could be accidentally triggered under certain conditions i.e. someone nudges the door like in a fall bracing against the door etc. 2) if an accident did happen, normal flight would incur excessive delays [acceptable or not?] 3) under what conditions would the system not detect a hijacking, ie can it be triggered from the ground in case of failure? 4) human error- suppose the system is bypassed by the pilot- ie it isnt switched on or the door is kept open etc. what then? how would these problems be addressed and how would it affect the normal operations in flight?
  • Why wouldn't hijackers just start going after the controllers, instead?
  • What ever happened to the idea of isolating the cockpit from the rest of the plane? I remember a few years ago reading that the cockpit would not be accessible from the cabin while in the air, regardless of the pilot's discretion. It might be inconvenient to the pilots and flight staff, but it seems like the most idiot proof way of insuring the safety of the aircraft.
  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObiWanStevobi (1030352) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:54PM (#18268664) Journal
    How about locking the f***ing cabin door??!!! Doesn't cost anything, no one gets hijacked. Instead lets make a remote control terminal to fly the plane into a building. Only good old fat government defense contracts can bring us such stupidity. Heck, lets give the contract to Diebold and let the central control program be an Access VBA App on a Windows machine connected to the internet.
    • User: UBL has requested control of this flight control terminal, cancel or allow?
  • I'm a frequent flyer who would prefer not to fly in any plane thus equipped.

    This type of system is a perennial topic on comp.risks [ncl.ac.uk] & is certainly not a panacea. It is not clear whether the system is any improvement, or whether it merely increases risk; and I don't trust Boeing to decide for us.
  • by andy314159pi (787550) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:55PM (#18268674) Journal
    How much cash and resources do we have to spend on 9/11 related expenditures before we realize that it's going overboard? It was a terrible day, the worst in my life and it didn't even affect me personally (i.e. I didn't know anyone who died.) But I think that the spending has gone overboard. I'm guessing that there will be serious safety issues related to this system anyhow.
  • Skyhook (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roach2002 (77772) <mlaroche@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:56PM (#18268684) Homepage
    Skyhook [amazon.com] is a book centered around this concept. The interesting part was that they wouldn't actually deploy this system in commercial aircraft, they'd just have a press release to make people think they had.

    (And no, that isn't a referrer link where I get money. I don't know why it has 'ref=')
  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @05:58PM (#18268706) Journal
    Oh, I'm sure this could never POSSIBLY go wrong.
    The mind *boggles*.
    But it'll make for some great disaster movies, where Bruce Willis has to hack his way through a bulkhead to cut the wires for the autopilot before Boeing Jon can fly the remote-hijacked plane to Norway where all the passengers would, um, well, have something awful happen involving blonde women and glaciers.
  • this is a seriously good idea. *but* wouldnt the terrorists just read the manufacturing plans like they glean the flying manuals and train in six months prior to the ambush? i mean, it's probably something that could be dismantled during flight. some seriously ingenious work would have to go into the making of the system to prevent this from being taken apart.

    great to see we still have some fresh ideas appearing.
  • Very soon we'll hear a story of a hijacker smashing in the cockpit door of an airliner only to find an empty room with no controls, no instruments, no windows; just a Federal Agent sitting there with a big gun, some tape and a pair of handcuffs.

    If this technology is available, why bother with pilots at all? I know, I know, human in the loop safety etc, etc. But if the fares were cheap enough, I'd risk it.
  • Is hijacking seriously still a viable option for terrorists in the USA? I'd think that the standard assumption these days would be that a terrorist hijacking a plane probably intends to use it as a missile. Failing a passenger revolt against the hijackers, I'd think the US military would just shoot down the plane or otherwise force it to land. The assumption is that the passengers are dead anyways...
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@l y n x . b c .ca> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:16PM (#18268964) Journal
    We don't need this. If anything genuinely good came out of 9/11, it's this: passengers will *NOT* sit idly by while a hijacker goes and tries to seize control of an aircraft, as they know that their lives would likely be forfeit anyways if they did. It was a very costly wake-up call, and although I would never go so far as to say it was worth it, I think it's safe bet that no hijacker will ever be able to take control of a passenger aircraft ever again... at least not over USA soil.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:31PM (#18269182) Homepage

    "You can't fly any lower [f-16.net] describes an advanced ground contact avoidance system developed in Sweden and tested on F16s. This is really impressive.

    After moderate checks of the system at shallow dive angles and an aborted run or two, Prosser simulated several fatal mishaps. The first replicated a pilot flying on night-vision goggles (NVG) and losing situational awareness. With Auto-GCAS minimum descent altitude set at 500-ft. AGL (a medium-risk test condition), Prosser rolled into a partially inverted 5g turn, then back to a 90-deg. bank before relaxing his grip on the stick. The mishap pilot had lost the night horizon and, thinking he was approximately wings-level, let the nose fall. He was unknowingly diving toward the ground. Similar NVG-related accidents have killed F-16 and A-10 pilots.

    While the flat Rosamond Dry Lake raced upward at us, filling my out-the-canopy field-of-view, I glanced at my back-seat HUD repeater and saw two large chevrons moving toward the center of the display. Their arrow-points touched, and we immediately snap-rolled to wings-level and pulled sharply to about 10 deg. nose-up. When the "You got it!" annunciation sounded, we were climbing at about 317 kt. and 2,940 ft., roughly 600+ ft. above the lakebed--an artificially high altitude established for safety reasons.

    This thing is dealing with flight situations much tougher than anything the big transports do. It's designed not to interfere with typical attack aircraft maneuvers. We flew about 200 ft. above the ground at 520-560 kt., popping over high-tension power lines, hills and small ridges. Slipping through cuts in the desert mountains, rolling inverted to pull down the backside of ridges, and carving around the sides of rocky hills, Prosser demonstrated that a pilot could fly a normal, low-level tactical mission without experiencing a single nuisance fly-up. But go a little too low, and there's a "speedbump" as the system nudges the aircraft up a bit.

    The system turns off when you're set up for landing: slow speed, wheels down, flaps down.

    This would have saved United 93, where they had a fight in the cockpit. If the computers take over when the plane is headed into the ground, a number of situations become survivable. Not just hijackings; crashes due to pilot distraction or navigational error; what's called "controlled flight into terrain".

  • by krray (605395) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @07:34PM (#18270008)
    As a passenger ... and a pilot I think this is a VERY dangerous idea. More so than dealing with the terrorists in other ways.

    Let me qualify myself -- I am a hobbyist when it comes to flying. Single and dual engine props are the largest I've ever flown myself, but I know a damn good landing when I see / feel one. Flying "runs in the family" as my brother does it, my father, my grandfather [did, passed away], and my Uncle is a commercial pilot himself. Growing up it was common to go and visit grandpa (or more often have him fly over to us) in the rent-a-plane type club -- why drive and deal with all the traffic? When we wanted to go downtown to the city -- just fly in. I was flying when I was six... Anyway, I digress...

    On a recent commercial trip to Hawaii I can remember two specific landings that took place. One was in bad weather and the landing impressed me so much that I waited around to find out who landed the plane. The pilot proudly introduced me to his co-pilot and informed me it was his first real landing as such [flying passengers and not testing / in a simulator]. The other landing scared the hell out of me and within seconds of touching down I looked at my white-knuckled scared wife and said "somethings wrong, we're going off the runway". The weather was calm and clear -- and at the gate the pilot apologized to *everyone* over the PA system and informed us that the landing that took place was done by the emergency autopilot landing system [a scheduled test -- WITH PASSENGERS]. THANK GOD he was able to dis-engage said system and go with a hard left rudder when he did...

    Due to that last landing it has been the _last_ commercial flight I've taken (or plan to take). I'll fly myself, thank you.

    What do I do for a living? Ironically computer [programming] -- and I know all too well what can (and does) go wrong with these types of computer programs. There is NO WAY that all the bases and/or possibilities could be covered with our computer knowledge today.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @07:36PM (#18270044)
    This idea is a non-starter, for many reasons:
    • It's a proposed technical solution for a past social problem. barn door and all that. even if it worked perfectly, the bad guys would just change their approach in some small way.
    • Pilots will never give up the principle that they're in charge, always.
    • There are over 100,000 flights every day. All it takes is a false positive rate of 0.0001% to be totally unacceptable.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:05PM (#18270346) Journal
    While demonstrating one of the new remote controlled aircraft, it was pointed out that the cockpit will now be occupied by a pilot and a dog. When asked about the dog, it was explained that he was there to bite the pilot's hand off if he reached for any of the controls.
  • Implementation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:56PM (#18271578)

    Scientists at aircraft giant Boeing are testing the tamper-proof autopilot system which uses state-of-the-art computer and satellite technology.

    For something *that* secure, I'm sure they're using Vista. I can see it now, "It looks like you're trying to let someone take over your aircraft by remote control. Allow or deny?"

    But more seriously, how could a system like that EVER be trusted? M$ spend lots of time and way more money trying to make Vista secure, and it's already cracked. Same for HD-DVD DRM. And if terrorist really can't think of anything better, they can do this:
    1. Put a strong jammer in a pickup truck or a Cessna, and have it near the plane at the time of hijacking.
    2. Take over a plane as it's taking off or landing, and jam the remote control signal at the same time.
    3. Crash the plane into the airport concourse, another plane, whatever. The sky's the limit!
  • not necessary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pizza_milkshake (580452) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @10:05PM (#18271638)
    what people don't realize is that the "solution" to the hijacker/bomber has already been implemented in various forms. civil rights have been reduced, law enforcement power has been increased; potential plane hijackers/bombers are more likely to be caught in the planning stages. airport security has been upgraded from a complete joke to slightly less useless. but most importantly, the crew and passengers are much more likely to put up a resistance, as they did in Flight 93 [wikipedia.org] on 9/11 and against the "shoe bomber [wikipedia.org]" Richard Reed.

    in this case the solution is a social one not a technological one. the most powerful force on a plane are its passengers.

  • Oooh boy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @11:03PM (#18272106)
    There's a good amount of evidence [wtc7.net] to suggest that 9-11 was the result of radio-control piloting.

    # Behavior of Villains
    The behavior of the alleged hijackers preceding the attack is inconsistent with skill and discipline needed to have a hope of pulling off such an attack.
            * Mohammed Atta allegedly barely caught Flight 11, a key flight in the event that he was supposedly planning for years.
            * The alleged hijackers partied at topless bars and drank alcohol, despite being portrayed as fundamentalist Muslims, for whom such behavior would be surprising, to say the least.

    # Evidence Void
    There is no hard evidence that any of the alleged hijackers were on any of the doomed flights, and substantial evidence that some weren't involved.

            * No video of any of the 19 hijackers at any of the three originating airports of the four flights has been made public, except for a video allegedly showing hijackers of Flight 77.
            * At least six of the alleged hijackers have turned up alive since the attack.
            * None of the four flight crews radioed Air Traffic Control about hijackings in progress.
            * None of the four flight crews punched in the four-digit hijacking code.
            * No public evidence indicates that the remains of any of the hijackers was identified at any of the crash sites.
            * None of the contents of any of the black boxes have been made public.
            * The only 4-1/2 minutes of the phone call from Flight 11 Attendant Betty Ong made public describes a stabbing but does not provide any details indicating that Arab hijackers were on board.

    # Phenomenal Success
    The success with which hijackers allegedly took over four jets with knives and then piloted the jets to small targets is simply miraculous.

            * None of the four flight crews were able to stop the alleged hijackers, in spite of several of the pilots being Vietnam veterans.
            * None of the alleged hijackers were good pilots, yet the three buildings were hit with phenomenal precision.

    --And what precision! To be able to accurately target a building which is so far away that you can't even see it is amazing. These were guys who couldn't even pass flight school. Sounds like a computer assist to me.


    -FL

  • by geoff lane (93738) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @01:23AM (#18273010)
    There should be a scale, like the Richter scale for earthquakes, for dumb ideas.
    This one would be 11/10.

    Hijacks are very, very rare so the effectiveness of this stupid idea is dominated by the failure modes. The obvious failure mode is accidental activation. This will occur much more often than an actual hijack.

    So rather than being a solution, it will be just another cause of flight delays.

If God had a beard, he'd be a UNIX programmer.

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