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Tight Airline Security

Originally published at BunkBlog. You can comment here or there.

Anyone who has flown in the past 8 years or so has grown accustomed to the ever-increasing indignities inflicted on the airline passenger of today. We can’t have more than 3 oz of liquids, we have to remove our shoes, we can’t have a knife as dangerous as the ones they hand out in Business Class to spread butter with, etc.

There are a few things that most people don’t know but may cause you to wonder if the security apparatus is really intended to do anything other than look impressive, while failing utterly to be impressive once investigated more deeply. For example, airline pilots and crew must go through the exact same security screening to get on the plane as passengers. Some pilots and crew find this a bizarre and pointless ceremony, but at least there is consistency. In the inconsistent column, airport workers don’t have to go through the same screening as passengers and crew. They undergo background checks, and then are essentially given the keys to the back rooms of the airport. You’d think, if maniacally checking everyone that enters the plane and stays onboard is so important, checking the people who enter the plane and then get off again would be more important.

But, there’s a great story out today that is even more mind-boggling than inconsistent and simply silly security rules: a man piloted jumbo jets for thirteen years with no passenger pilot’s license.  Back in the 1960s, Frank Abagnale was able to bluff his way into such situations, but that was in the days before Google. To be fair, Thomas Salme did indeed have an expired commercial pilot’s license, but that’s for things like UPS planes. He racked up over 10,000 hours of accident-free passenger flights over his thirteen years, so I guess we could do worse.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2010 04:54 am (UTC)
I'd be interested to know what kinds of planes he trained on for his old (real) license. A lot of the planes UPS etc. uses are, after all, just airliners with the passenger section converted to cargo space. OTOH, if he hadn't flown big multi-engine jets at all before ... well, I guess it's a testimony to the quality of modern simulators.

True story: the USAF shipped me back from England by FedEx.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )