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Hijacking Protocol?

NP1Mike
post Jan 31 2014, 02:35 PM
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Is there a 'hijacking protocol' for U.S. aircraft?
If so what is it, in as much detail as possible?

What exactly must flight attendants do the *instant* they are aware something isn't right in their plane?
I'm thinking of notifications, containment, etc, step by step.
Ditto for pilots?


Also, is there a system in place today, or was there one on 9/11 whereby US ATC's could send alerts to *all planes* in US skies, notifying them of a hijacking currently taking place (Flt.11)?

Doing so would ensure that pilots would *never* open their cockpit doors, under any circumstances, for the remainder of their flights.


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JimmieReb
post Feb 1 2014, 09:34 AM
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[quote name='NP1Mike' date='Jan 31 2014, 12:35 PM' post='10810984']


As a old Military Command Pilot and a FAA Center Air Traffic Controller, (now retired from both) I will attempt to answer each item at a time.

"Is there a 'hijacking protocol' for U.S. aircraft?."

There are procedures outlined by each Company telling the Pilots what to do. Not for public consumption, of course, for
reasons that should be obvious. At the time of 911 there was in effect a directive that told pilots to set a certain code in their transponders if they were hijacked. When set the code appeared immediately on FAA Displays. The controllers knew what to do if that code appeared. Certain phraseology would then be used in communications that would not "tip off" the hijacker in case he was in the cockpit.
"
"Also, is there a system in place today, or was there one on 9/11 whereby US ATC's could send alerts to *all planes* in US skies, notifying them of a hijacking currently taking place (Flt.11)?"

Any flight above 18,000 ft is required to have an operational transponder and be in contact with ATC. So if a blanket notification was asked for it can be done. Remember though if a hijacker is in the cockpit he will be able to hear the communications between the Flight Crew and ATC. So any call alerting all aircraft would also alert the hijacker.

"What exactly must flight attendants do the *instant* they are aware something isn't right in their plane?
I'm thinking of notifications, containment, etc, step by step."Ditto for pilots?

Again each company has training mandatory for these things for all crew members before they can fly. Their procedures are also obviously not for public consumption


"Doing so would ensure that pilots would *never* open their cockpit doors, under any circumstances, for the remainder of their flights."

Never is quite a word.......

Suppose the pilot is sitting in front of such a locked door and he gets a call from a flight attendant who says, "we are being hijacked and the guy is right here. He says he will kill us or passengers one at a time if you do not open the door". Then suppose he starts doing just that. How many people would he have to kill before the pilot opens the door.? What would you do if you were the pilot?

Keep in mind that up until 911. Hijackings usually went to where the bad guy wanted to go. Pilots back then would not have suspected that the hijacker was on a suicide mission. He most likely expected to be directed to go to Cuba or somewhere. Things are different today of course . You can be sure that all Pilots and flight crews are trained and briefed on what procedures to follow. They do not particularly want those thing publicized


Jim Bertram
USAF Ret.
DOT/FAA Ret.


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NP1Mike
post Feb 2 2014, 01:18 AM
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Thanks Jim for giving as much detail as you could on my questions.

I still have a few questions for you.

It seems what you are saying is that Company A could have a completely different hijacking protocol from company B or C or D, correct?
In fact no two companies necessarily would have the exact same protocol?

OK let's get specific now for this next question.

Let's assume there were hijackers on Flt 11 (a huge assumption on my part).

If there were, would it be reasonable to assume that it was a stewardess or hijacker who communicated with the captain to open the cockpit door?

Is there a mechanism in place for a steward(ess) to alert the pilots
(you don't have to give out any specific details on the mechanism) of an attempted hijacking?
I'm thinking of something other than picking up a phone and calling them.

Something, anything, that would allow the pilot to alert ATC IMMEDIATELY of even a suspected hijacking?

QUOTE
So if a blanket notification was asked for it can be done.


I'm not thinking of something like this (a pilot making a request), but rather a protocol that says, in essence, DO NOT KEEP PILOTS in other planes in the dark about a hijacking taking place. You must notify everyone, immediately?

QUOTE
Remember though if a hijacker is in the cockpit he will be able to hear the communications between the Flight Crew and ATC. So any call alerting all aircraft would also alert the hijacker.


And what harm could come of this?
Especially in light of being able to alert all other pilots to a possible second or third etc. hijacking?


QUOTE
Suppose the pilot is sitting in front of such a locked door and he gets a call from a flight attendant who says, "we are being hijacked and the guy is right here. He says he will kill us or passengers one at a time if you do not open the door". Then suppose he starts doing just that. How many people would he have to kill before the pilot opens the door.? What would you do if you were the pilot?


Well if such was the situation, at the very least, it would be ASSURED that the pilot would have alerted ATC to the hijacking, given the amount of time he had available.


QUOTE
Things are different today of course . You can be sure that all Pilots and flight crews are trained and briefed on what procedures to follow. They do not particularly want those thing publicized


What I was getting at essentially was whether it would have been reasonable to assume that by the time the hijackers entered the cockpits (again, a big assumption that there were hijackers), the pilots would have already contacted ATC and alerted them to the hijacking?

Thanks for your help!

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justaskin
post Feb 2 2014, 05:24 PM
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QUOTE (JimmieReb @ Feb 1 2014, 07:34 AM) *
. . .
Suppose the pilot is sitting in front of such a locked door and he gets a call from a flight attendant who says, "we are being hijacked and the guy is right here. He says he will kill us or passengers one at a time if you do not open the door". Then suppose he starts doing just that. How many people would he have to kill before the pilot opens the door.? What would you do if you were the pilot?
. . .

A barrel roll? wink.gif Seriously, though, I find it very difficult to envision any "legitimate" hijack scenario where the pilots cannot at least squawk 7500. Like NP1Mike, I doubt there were any actual hijackings on 9/11. If there were, however, they were done with badges, not box cutters.
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NP1Mike
post Feb 2 2014, 09:11 PM
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QUOTE (justaskin @ Feb 2 2014, 04:24 PM) *
A barrel roll? wink.gif Seriously, though, I find it very difficult to envision any "legitimate" hijack scenario where the pilots cannot at least squawk 7500. Like NP1Mike, I doubt there were any actual hijackings on 9/11. If there were, however, they were done with badges, not box cutters.



Bingo!

The only hijacking scenario I can possibly see as having occurred is one whereby the hijackers were wearing the badges, and the 'hijackings' having taken place on the ground, before the planes took off.

I think too few people who have investigated the events of 9/11 have taken the time to try to envisage
what would have occurred if 4 or 5 skinny Arab hijackers wielding 'plastic knives' and box cutters attempted to successfully commandeer a jet aircraft.



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amazed!
post Feb 3 2014, 10:46 AM
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Badges instead of box cutters! I suspect that is too damn true, at least as a very plausible scenario.

I don't think there were any hijackings at all, but the case of Ellen Mariani raises questions.
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JimmieReb
post Feb 3 2014, 01:54 PM
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Thanks Jim for giving as much detail as you could on my questions.

JIM......First, let me say again. And this is a very important distinction.......... Prior to 911, flight crews were not thinking that the Hijackers were on suicide missions, but were trained to act to protect the passengers. So they would do whatever the hijackers told them to do.....expecting to be directed to fly to a location ordered by the hijacker. The roll of ATC was, and still is, to clear a route for the commandeered flight to protect any conflicts with traffic along whatever route the airplane flew.
As an aside here.....Back when I was working as a Controller one evening at Albuquerque Center on a not so busy night; We had taken off our headsets and were listening to the Airplane to Center traffic over the loudspeakers above the sectors. I remember the pilot's voice well as he said in a rather bemused voice, "Hey Center, I need a vector to Cuba." The Center controller didn't miss a beat. "Turn right, fly heading one four zero, cleared direct when able, what altitude would you like, sir?" ....... And off they went. (That may not be the heading he gave, I don't remember, but that's what happened.)

I still have a few questions for you.
It seems what you are saying is that Company A could have a completely different hijacking protocol from company B or C or D, correct?
In fact no two companies necessarily would have the exact same protocol?

JIM In a word......Yes. (But I don't imagine that they would be all that different.)

OK let's get specific now for this next question.

Let's assume there were hijackers on Flt 11 (a huge assumption on my part).
If there were, would it be reasonable to assume that it was a stewardess or hijacker who communicated with the captain to open the cockpit door?

I would most likely be the Flight Attendant

Is there a mechanism in place for a steward(ess) to alert the pilots
(you don't have to give out any specific details on the mechanism) of an attempted hijacking?
I'm thinking of something other than picking up a phone and calling them.

JIM You mean some sort of an alarm button? I don't know, but I don't see what difference it would make. It isn't going to benefit a Hijacker to not have the pilot know he is being hijacked.

Something, anything, that would allow the pilot to alert ATC IMMEDIATELY of even a suspected hijacking?

JIM The Transponder code IS going to show up IMMEDIATELY on being switched to the proper number.
In any case, ATC is not going to intervene. What could ATC do about it anyhow? They will provide as much help as possible to keep the passengers safe.

QUOTE
So if a blanket notification was asked for it can be done.
I'm not thinking of something like this (a pilot making a request), but rather a protocol that says, in essence, DO NOT KEEP PILOTS in other planes in the dark about a hijacking taking place. You must notify everyone, immediately?

JIM Everyone on the ATC frequency in use will certainly know as it is happening. I am quite sure that the Companies will notify their flights as well. Believe me, ATC knows quite well what to do if they see a HIJACK Code

QUOTE

Remember though if a hijacker is in the cockpit he will be able to hear the communications between the Flight Crew and ATC. So any call alerting all aircraft would also alert the hijacker.
And what harm could come of this?

JIM You tell me.


Especially in light of being able to alert all other pilots to a possible second or third etc. hijacking?

JIM I say again, ATC knows what to do…………

QUOTE

Suppose the pilot is sitting in front of such a locked door and he gets a call from a flight attendant who says, "we are being hijacked and the guy is right here. He says he will kill us or passengers one at a time if you do not open the door". Then suppose he starts doing just that. How many people would he have to kill before the pilot opens the door.? What would you do if you were the pilot?

Well if such was the situation, at the very least, it would be ASSURED that the pilot would have alerted ATC to the hijacking, given the amount of time he had available.

JIM I have no comment on this…..


A barrel roll? wink.gif Seriously, though, I find it very difficult to envision any "legitimate" hijack scenario where the pilots cannot at least squawk 7500. Like NP1Mike, I doubt there were any actual hijackings on 9/11. If there were, however, they were done with badges, not box cutters.

JIM A roll or other acrobatic maneuver in a commercial airliner with passengers would injure dozens of passengers. A nice smooth flight to Cuba would save the company a fortune in lawsuits. You must remember that back then the pilots had no reason to think they were all going to crash into buildings!!!!

QUOTE

Things are different today of course . You can be sure that all Pilots and flight crews are trained and briefed on what procedures to follow. They do not particularly want those thing publicized

What I was getting at essentially was whether it would have been reasonable to assume that by the time the hijackers entered the cockpits (again, a big assumption that there were hijackers), the pilots would have already contacted ATC and alerted them to the hijacking?

JIM I repeat……the transponder alerts ATC right away.

JIM Please note guys that I am not commenting on what I think about the Official position on 911. I do have my own opinion on all of that of course. Especially about the Pentagon!
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NP1Mike
post Feb 3 2014, 09:09 PM
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It seems we are talking past each other Jim; that we aren't quite on the same wavelength.

QUOTE (JimmieReb @ Feb 3 2014, 12:54 PM) *
...The roll of ATC was, and still is, to clear a route for the commandeered flight to protect any conflicts with traffic along whatever route the airplane flew.


And I wanted to know if the ATC (the only body of people that the pilots could contact outside the plane)
would *automatically* and *immediately* contact higher officials to notify them of a hijacking that was taking place, live.
If for no other reason, simply as a courtesy to the pilots and the passengers.

QUOTE
I still have a few questions for you.
It seems what you are saying is that Company A could have a completely different hijacking protocol from company B or C or D, correct?
In fact no two companies necessarily would have the exact same protocol?

JIM In a word......Yes. (But I don't imagine that they would be all that different.)


The fact that:
a) the Airlines themselves set their own hijacking protocols
b) that the protocols aren't even uniform

is downright shocking and scary!

Is this still the way things are done today?


QUOTE
Is there a mechanism in place for a steward(ess) to alert the pilots
... of an attempted hijacking?

JIM You mean some sort of an alarm button?


Yes, some type of alarm button specifically indicating a hijacking attempt.

QUOTE
I don't know, but I don't see what difference it would make. It isn't going to benefit a Hijacker to not have the pilot know he is being hijacked.


Huh?
I'm trying to follow your logic here.
Your answer shows you are thinking from a hijacker's perspective.

I am asking whether there is a button to alert the pilot of a hijack attempt and you are telling me
that if there is such a button, the hijackers wouldn't benefit if it was pressed or not?
Huh?

Excuse me, but let's try to examine this from the *pilots'* perspective OK?
Do you think a pilot might be able to benefit in any way, if he knew immediately whether an attempted hijacking was taking place on his flight?
Oh say to... possibly...... notify ATC?


QUOTE
JIM The Transponder code IS going to show up IMMEDIATELY on being switched to the proper number.
In any case, ATC is not going to intervene. What could ATC do about it anyhow? They will provide as much help as possible to keep the passengers safe.



But first, before a pilot enters the code he must be alerted to the hijacking, correct?
How long would it take a pilot to enter the code?
The fact that ATC wouldn't intervene even if notified is simply shocking.
Do fighter jets possess a sixth sense?


QUOTE
JIM Everyone on the ATC frequency in use will certainly know as it is happening.


But I'm thinking of something different.
I'm thinking about ATC, actively sending messages (batch mode) to all airborne aircraft in U.S. airspace.
That is quite different from what you describe.

QUOTE
I am quite sure that the Companies will notify their flights as well.


How pray tell, can Companies notify their flights if the pilots communicate with ATC about the hijacking and not the Companies?

QUOTE
Believe me, ATC knows quite well what to do if they see a HIJACK Code


So far, you've not mentioned a single thing that they would do.

QUOTE
Remember though if a hijacker is in the cockpit he will be able to hear the communications between the Flight Crew and ATC. So any call alerting all aircraft would also alert the hijacker.
And what harm could come of this?

JIM You tell me.


I don't see any harm whatsoever in having pilots on all other domestic flights (including the hijackers themselves) knowing about an on-going hijacking.
To the contrary, I see many benefits (not to the hijackers).


QUOTE
What I was getting at essentially was whether it would have been reasonable to assume that by the time the hijackers entered the cockpits (again, a big assumption that there were hijackers), the pilots would have already contacted ATC and alerted them to the hijacking?

JIM I repeat……the transponder alerts ATC right away.


BUT... the transponder is not a robot.
Someone has to punch in the code.
All I was asking was whether it would be reasonable to assume that the codes were punched into the transponders of each plane that was 'hijacked'?


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JimmieReb
post Feb 4 2014, 03:13 PM
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[quote name='NP1Mike' date='Feb 3 2014, 07:09 PM' post='10811076']
It seems we are talking past each other Jim; that we aren't quite on the same wavelength.



And I wanted to know if the ATC (the only body of people that the pilots could contact outside the plane) ………..Not true
would *automatically* and *immediately* contact higher officials to notify them of a hijacking that was taking place, live.
If for no other reason, simply as a courtesy to the pilots and the passengers.

JIM The Flight Crews can (and do) communicate with their companies through their own system. That’s how they get gate and other pertinent info. They are also computer interfaced.
Obviously, ATC will notify proper authorities and agencies with whatever information is pertinent and useful during a HiJack . Naturally each center has a checklist of things to do and people to tell.

The fact that:
a) the Airlines themselves set their own hijacking protocols
b) that the protocols aren't even uniform
is downright shocking and scary!
Is this still the way things are done today?

JIM I am simply trying to answer your question. It is quite natural for the companies to set up procedures for the crews to use. I see nothing shocking or scary about it. Any procedure or directive is almost certainly going to be…..”Do whatever it takes to keep the Hijacker from doing harm”….It is all going to be on the Captain or surviving highest ranking crew member’s shoulders anyhow
Besides, there is little the flight crew can do except try to keep harm from coming to their passengers. That means the Hijacker is ultimately going to determine what happens anyhow.
Keep in mind here that if the Captain believes that the Hijacker is determined to crash the airplane, that is one thing. If he believes the hijacker wants to go somewhere else and land, that is something quite different.

Yes, some type of alarm button specifically indicating a hijacking attempt.
Huh?
I'm trying to follow your logic here.
Your answer shows you are thinking from a hijacker's perspective.
I am asking whether there is a button to alert the pilot of a hijack attempt and you are telling me
that if there is such a button, the hijackers wouldn't benefit if it was pressed or not?
Huh?


JIM What I am saying is what difference would it make to the hijacker how the cockpit is notified? Alarm or voice from the Flight Attendant he just wants the pilot to know what is happening.

Excuse me, but let's try to examine this from the *pilots'* perspective OK?
Do you think a pilot might be able to benefit in any way, if he knew immediately whether an attempted was taking place on his flight? Oh say to... possibly...... notify ATC?

JIM This question deserves no comment

But first, before a pilot enters the code he must be alerted to the hijacking, correct?

JIM Same as above
How long would it take a pilot to enter the code?

JIM He sets four numbers into his transponder control panel.That code immediately starts flashing on the Controller’s data block display

The fact that ATC wouldn't intervene even if notified is simply shocking.

JIM By intervene, what do you think the controller could do? The controller’s job is to keep other aircraft clear of the Hijacked Airplane’s path. The Center admin staff will take care of all the required notifications. Trust me, when I say that there will be much scurrying around and telephone calling going on.

Do fighter jets possess a sixth sense?

JIM Ask any Fighter Pilot, I know what the response will be.

But I'm thinking of something different.
I'm thinking about ATC, actively sending messages (batch mode) to all airborne aircraft in U.S. airspace.
That is quite different from what you describe.

JIM To my knowledge there is no directive to send blanket advisories of Hijackings in progress.

How pray tell, can Companies notify their flights if the pilots communicate with ATC about the hijacking and not the Companies?

JIM I don’t think I said the pilots did not communicate with their companies. Rest assured there will be plenty of communication among all parties.

So far, you've not mentioned a single thing that they would do.

JIM What who would do?

I don't see any harm whatsoever in having pilots on all other domestic flights (including the hijackers themselves) knowing about an on-going hijacking.
To the contrary, I see many benefits (not to the hijackers).

JIM Tell us a couple, please!
Please don’t tell me that you think the Captain of each flight should announce to his passengers. “This is the Captain speaking. Folks there is a Hijacking going on over New York State and it looks like the hijackers are crashing the airplanes into buildings. So buckle up and enjoy the rest of this flight while you can. By the way if the guy sitting next to you looks like an Arab tell the Flight Attendant, please.”

BUT... the transponder is not a robot.
Someone has to punch in the code.

JIM Already answered!

All I was asking was whether it would be reasonable to assume that the codes were punched into the transponders of each plane that was 'hijacked'

JIM Absolutely........ OK, let me explain something here.

All flights of Commercial Airlines are set into the computers of ATC facilities serving the departure airports as stored flight plans. Each flight plan is activated when the Flight Crew calls for clearance from departure control or the towers. When clearance is issued to the crew a Transponder code for that flight is created and assigned to that flight plan. When a departure message is entered into the ATC Computer by the controller and the pilot sets that code into his operating transponder the Controllers will see that code and a data block will show on the computer screens. Once the ATC Computer has that target it will follow it on every display that is set up to see it. It will also pass that flight plan and that data block to each display along the Flight’s route.
So, if that code is changed to the Hijack Code along the route it will immediately inform the controller by flashing the data block.

There is considerable dispute still about the events of 9/11/2001. The records pertaining to the flights involved that day and what was displayed at the ATC facilities should be available at the facilities where each flight departed. If any of the flights mentioned actually departed, the computer data for each departure would have been generated and should have been available to investigators.
At least two of the flights were tracked by the New York and Boston Centers at altitude. One of which was flashing HIJACK.
All of that is “Part of the Story we are not being told”.

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rob balsamo
post Feb 4 2014, 04:35 PM
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"Hijacking Protocol" was the same across all airlines/operators prior to 9/11. It was called "The Common Strategy", it was approved by the FAA, and in fact you can look it up on Wikipedia.

However, what Wiki does not tell you is that the "Common Strategy" did not include letting/complying with "Hijackers" to fly the airplane while the pilots are "herded" to sit in the back with the passengers, as was allegedly told by Barbara Olson to her husband Ted. Read more here...

http://pilotsfor911truth.org/pentagon.html

As for the "Hijacking Protocol" in use post-911, that is on a need-to-know basis.
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paulmichael
post Feb 5 2014, 06:16 AM
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QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Feb 4 2014, 03:35 PM) *
"Hijacking Protocol" was the same across all airlines/operators prior to 9/11. It was called "The Common Strategy", it was approved by the FAA, and in fact you can look it up on Wikipedia.

However, what Wiki does not tell you is that the "Common Strategy" did not include letting/complying with "Hijackers" to fly the airplane while the pilots are "herded" to sit in the back with the passengers, as was allegedly told by Barbara Olson to her husband Ted. Read more here...

http://pilotsfor911truth.org/pentagon.html

As for the "Hijacking Protocol" in use post-911, that is on a need-to-know basis.


Well, OK, but...

What about Hijacking Investigation Protocol?

Would it not be proper investigative procedure to very closely check out each and every person, living or dead, who has had even the most casual connection to a hijacked plane to determine if the hijacker(s) received any form of aid in committing their crime?

This would include, but not be limited to, the investigation of passengers, flight crew, baggage handlers, aircraft cleaners, caterers, gate agents, airport counter agents, aircraft fuelers, jetway operators, aircraft maintenance workers and, of course, security screeners.

I have absolutely no recollection of there being any mention of any such investigation as it may have pertained to the incidents of 9/11.

If the 9/11 Commission was really supposed to investigate governmental failures on 9/11, should they not have, at minimum, interviewed airport security screeners. I have no such recollection of this occurring during the 9/11 Commission proceedings.

All that I remember, was U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's standing in front of an easel displaying 19 pictures of 9/11 alleged hijacking suspects within a mere 24 hours of the alleged incidents: HIGHLY IRREGULAR if you ask me, and in the greatest criminal case throughout all of history, no less.

BTW, where is Barbara Olson now? Did the government have something on her or her husband or both so that she could have been blackmailed into cooperation and into something akin to a Witness Protection Program where one assumes a new identity and receives compensation probably exceeding $60,000 per year? Instead of feeling sorry for Ms. Olson, the public should have demanded an investigation as outlined above of her and all 9/11 passengers, et al.

P.M.
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Twocky61
post Apr 25 2014, 04:05 AM
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Thanks guys for such a comprehensive debate on hijacking protocol

As I type this uk NewsTalk LBC radio is discussing the breaking news story of the Australian Virgin Blue aircraft which has been hijacked enroute to Bali

One question raised concerns aircraft layout where the cockpit door is visible to upper deck passengers - so any hijacker sat in the upper deck compartment can see when the cockpit door is opened and closed and could possibly work out when the stewardess will next go to the cockpit (with coffe/meals for pilots for example) and be waiting to over power him/her

As has already been stated a hijacker could have a crew member or passenger at gun point and threaten to pull the trigger if the pilot refuses to open the door & of course the pilot is then forced into a corner and have to let the hijackers into the cockpit

Re. alerting ATC: I assume there must be a button (under the 'dashboard' so to speak) so like in a bank it can be secretly pressed so as to Sqwark 7700 (or the specific hijacking Sqwark code) thus alerting ATC of a hijacking situation

Again a very informative debate and for a self-confessed aviation geek like myself I am totally spellbound by all things aviation (I even stand on the observation decks at airports with my trusty aviation scanner; total geek that I am lol)
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