Airline Terrorism
Whether we would like to admit it or not, aircraft terrorism is a very real and
deadly subject. Inside nothing more than a small suitcase, a carefully assembled
explosive can bring an ending to the lives of countless men, women, and
children, with no preference or regard to age, sex, and religion. In a single
moment and flash, families are torn apart as their loved ones become victims of
terrorism. As the airline price wars have continued to rage, the amount of
fliers increase at phenomenal rates. The airports are filled to maximum capacity
with people all interested in just surviving the long lines and finally finding
relaxation in their aircraft seats with the help of a cold drink and pillow.

Sadly, it has come to the point where one must consider if the passengers should
be relaxing. The half a billion passengers that rush through a terminal each
year are completely unaware of how much trust they are putting in a small,
antiquated machine that scans their luggage. Teams of employees working for the
government have been successful in passing through metal detectors armed with
knives, guns, and even a discharged hand grenade. Reports Doug Smith of USA

Today: "The fact that the people manning these machines and airport gates make
less than someone at McDonald’s and usually are uneducated average Dicks or

Janes, may be part of the problem." In most of England, the guards are
expertly trained and receive high pay. The issue of sabotage and criminal
attacks on aircraft is one that is horrifying to contemplate. However, the
potential is ever present and cannot be swept under some political carpet. The
statistics as provided by the NTSB and FAA are ugly, and the results of these
accidents uglier still. The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie,

Scotland, on December 21, 1988 and another similar bombing on an Air India
flight in June, 1985 are forever etched in our memories. Around 1,000 aircraft
passengers have been killed in the past ten years due to terrorist bomb attacks
on civilian aircraft (NTSB). If the yet to be solved TWA flight 800 mystery
proves to be a victim as well, the number soars to over 1,300 (NTSB). The
government is aware of the problems, but chooses to act after the fact, despite
the countless warnings that precede a massacre given to them by safety experts
in the aviation industry. One only needs look at current and past legislation
that follows an occurrence. "In the next ten years, I believe the likelihood
is pretty good that there will be a bombing of a domestic flight. There are too
many dissident groups in the world and too many nuts willing to do the
unspeakable in order to get into the history books (McGuire)." In the book
that provides a consumer’s examination of airline safety, Collision Course, by

Ralph Nader, numerous employees voicing the need for improved safety and
terrorism countermeasures are quoted. What is so frightening is that examination
of the quotations reveals that they are from the mouths of highly respected
officials who find themselves tangled in the slow process of instituting new
laws to protect travelers by increasing safety regulations. There are two ways
to significantly reduce the possibility of such calamities as aircraft bombings.

Ideally, security checks would be sufficiently stringent to prevent any bombs
from being smuggled on board the plane. Steps are being taken, with passengers
having to be matched to their luggage by photo identification prior to departure
in the United States. Secondly, a modification of the aircraft should be
considered. More specifically, the cargo and baggage holds (St. John). According
to the study, Technology Against Terrorism: Structuring Security, by the U.S.

Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (January 1992): "Explosive devices
of the size used in airline terrorist events to date are deadly not because they
directly cause catastrophic failure (blow the airplane to pieces), but because
they start a domino effect where the aircraft destroys itself." The low level
and poor quality of airport and airline security measures mandated by the FARs
(Federal Aviation Regulations) have left domestic flights dangerously vulnerable
to criminal attacks. Properly applied bomb-resistant materials could save
passenger lives in the event of an explosion in a plane while flying, or on the
ground. The effort would also act as a deterrent to would-be criminals who most
likely would give up their efforts upon learning their master-plans would amount
to nothing, even if they beat the initial airport security screening. If this
plan is tangible, the FAA must implement it and make it mandatory for all
airlines to purchase and install