Upon hearing the story of the JetBlue captain who went nuts on a flight yesterday and had to be subdued by passengers, I remembered a conversation I had ten years ago with a friend who was (and still is) a pilot for a major commercial airline.
He was frustrated with the screeners at an airport security checkpoint who had gone through his bag and taken away his nail clippers, which they saw as a possible weapon. As he stood there fuming, he wanted to ask if they thought this would really be a deterrent to some terrorist act he wanted to execute. After all, he didn’t need to gain access to the cockpit, since that’s where he worked. And if he wanted to crash the plane, all he had to do was lean forward on the controls and it would be earthbound before anyone could stop him.
He didn’t say any of this out loud at the time, as it would have meant not being allowed to fly that day or possibly ever again, not to mention the battery of psychological tests and debriefings he’d have to undergo. But when he told me the story a few days later, he was still angry at the ineffective rules that were in place merely to create a post-9/11 security facade.
Fortunately, the JetBlue co-pilot acted quickly and heroically, getting Captain Clayton Osbon out of the cockpit and ensuring that he couldn’t re-enter, and the passengers did what they had to do to subdue and restrain him.
But it could have been worse — at least Osbon didn’t have nail clippers onboard.