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Is Aviation Security Fundamentally Flawed ?

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Butts

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Returning from the Motor Show in Geneva yesterday I experienced something that to my mind seriously undermined the efficacy of this perennial burden on todays flyers.

Most uncharacteristically with regard to Swiss efficiency there was a long queue to clear Security at Geneva Airport (approx 30 mins). To be fair Easyjet had sent me a text to warn me but as my mobile is never switched on abroad (see another thread - aversion to technology) it was to no avail.

After my Son and I finally got through and purchased the obligatory Duty Free I retired to the welcoming confines of the palatial (at least compared to Birmingham) Smoking Lounge. He went off for a wander around the myriad of retail outlets that today constitute a modern Airport.

Much to my consternation he reappeared about 2 Bensons later brandishing a Swiss Army Knife he had purchased. Remember this is post-security and to those younger members who are not familiar with said appliance it is a number of useful tools and a pen knife all in one used by campers etc. His was a moderately sized version with the knife being two or three inches long, but there were by all accounts larger versions available to take straight on the plane in your hand luggage.

So never mind your shampoos and cans of pop that have to remain landside potential weapons are on sale airside !! What next Uzis alongside the perfume ?

Has anyone else got any examples of seemingly contradictory policies or lax procedures that blow a hole in the mystique associated with what you can and can't do at the Airport or bring onboard ?

Is it all style over substance ?
 
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Bletchleyite

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It's all security theatre in a way. What will stop another 9/11 is that the passengers simply won't let it happen. A hijack used to be mostly inconvenience - sit down, shut up, there will be ransom negotiations and you'll most likely be let out. Now, a hijack means death, so people, like on the 4th plane on 9/11, will have a go.

By the way, the queues at GVA are usually long.

FWIW small scissors are allowed on flights departing the UK:

https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/personal-items

the risk posed by a folding Swiss army knife is probably as low.
 
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Butts

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It's all security theatre in a way. What will stop another 9/11 is that the passengers simply won't let it happen. A hijack used to be mostly inconvenience - sit down, shut up, there will be ransom negotiations and you'll most likely be let out. Now, a hijack means death, so people, like on the 4th plane on 9/11, will have a go.

By the way, the queues at GVA are usually long.

FWIW small scissors are allowed on flights departing the UK:

https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/personal-items

the risk posed by a folding Swiss army knife is probably as low.

Interesting that list - it says that Cigarette Lighters are not allowed in Hold Baggage or Hand Baggage and have to be put in the toiletries type bag and kept on your person after screening. All the times I've flown it's in my Coat Pocket or loose in the tray and I always have a spare in both my hand and hold luggage !!!

What a load of tosh :oops:

With regard to queues at GVA Security I have not seen it as bad as it was yesterday very often. But it was Sunday Afternoon.
 

Iskra

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My (small) Swiss Army Knife is allowed through airport security and onto the aircraft (in Europe).

The danger posed by Swiss army knives is relatively small- if you tried to stab anyone, your own fingers would be at risk as the blade doesn't lock. Also unless it was a pre-emptive strike you would have to take time to deploy the knife-blade too, which is a bit of a giveaway to any potential victim... They aren't a very practical weapon.
 

GB

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The chance of another 911 type attack might be slim due to the extra strength and security on the cockpit doors but knives of any size represents a danger to those in the cabin area.

From wiki...

In their final report, the 9/11 Commission found the hijackers had recently purchased multi-function hand tools and assorted knives and blades
 

Bletchleyite

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My (small) Swiss Army Knife is allowed through airport security and onto the aircraft (in Europe).

The danger posed by Swiss army knives is relatively small- if you tried to stab anyone, your own fingers would be at risk as the blade doesn't lock. Also unless it was a pre-emptive strike you would have to take time to deploy the knife-blade too, which is a bit of a giveaway to any potential victim... They aren't a very practical weapon.

That's precisely why they are legal to carry on the street without a reason. Knives that are dangerous are not.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The chance of another 911 type attack might be slim due to the extra strength and security on the cockpit doors but knives of any size represents a danger to those in the cabin area.

I think you are missing the point. If passengers know hijack = death, they will put themselves at significant risk to prevent it.

Some may get injured, of course, but if you get involved in a knife fight on the street that will also happen.

It's worth noting that reinforced cockpit doors have already killed a couple of hundred...
 

DarloRich

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Whilst a Swiss army knife may cause terrible injury to one person ( possibly the person doing the stabbing!) it isn't going to take out a whole plane OR break through the cockpit door. I think if you were buying a hunting knife with a 7 inch blade then yes security is superfluous.
 

Bletchleyite

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Whilst a Swiss army knife may cause terrible injury to one person ( possibly the person doing the stabbing!) it isn't going to take out a whole plane OR break through the cockpit door. I think if you were buying a hunting knife with a 7 inch blade then yes security is superfluous.

That kind of thing is not on sale in the shop concerned, I've seen it (and the first time I did I was equally surprised).
 

ComUtoR

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Lighter + Alcohol = Fire

If someone wants to circumvent security to cause harm then they will.

Someone buying a Swiss Army knife in the airport is not likely to have the intent to cause harm.
 

Bletchleyite

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Interesting that list - it says that Cigarette Lighters are not allowed in Hold Baggage or Hand Baggage and have to be put in the toiletries type bag and kept on your person after screening. All the times I've flown it's in my Coat Pocket or loose in the tray and I always have a spare in both my hand and hold luggage !!!

What a load of tosh :oops:

It's not, it's for a very good reason - to avoid accidental activation causing a baggage fire.
 

miami

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Is it all style over substance ?

Yes

The chance of another 911 type attack might be slim due to the extra strength and security on the cockpit doors but knives of any size represents a danger to those in the cabin area.

From wiki...

They're also a danger to people on trains, or at schools. You can buy guns in San Marino, drive down to a local primary school, and have a field day.

Every major airport I'd ever been to except for Islamabad sold glass bottles.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
It's not, it's for a very good reason - to avoid accidental activation causing a baggage fire.

Lithium Ion batteries are limited too now, they can get pretty bad pretty quickly.
 

GB

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I think you are missing the point. If passengers know hijack = death, they will put themselves at significant risk to prevent it.

Well thats ok then, instead of mitigating the risks by not selling sharp bladed articles lets just leave it up to the passengers and crew to sort out...doesn't matter if one of them gets killed or injured in the process does it.

Some may get injured, of course, but if you get involved in a knife fight on the street that will also happen.

You generally cannot control the risks on the street, you can control (at least to a much greater degree) an airport environment.

It's worth noting that reinforced cockpit doors have already killed a couple of hundred...

The door didn't kill anyone, it was a very disturbed pilot for which next to nothing can prevent.

If a member of railway staff got injured or killed by someone who bought a knife on railway premises there would be outcry on here.
 

miami

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Well thats ok then, instead of mitigating the risks by not selling sharp bladed articles lets just leave it up to the passengers and crew to sort out...doesn't matter if one of them gets killed or injured in the process does it.

It's a trivial risk. How many people have been injured from a knife sold at a Swiss airport? How many have been killed driving to the airport? How many hours/weeks/years/lives have been spent queueing for security theatre?

You generally cannot control the risks on the street, you can control (at least to a much greater degree) an airport environment.

You can control the risks on the street, or at a station, it just costs time money and civil liberties.

The door didn't kill anyone, it was a very disturbed pilot for which next to nothing can prevent.

Except 150 undisturbed passengers who can overpower him without a locked door?

If a member of railway staff got injured or killed by someone who bought a knife on railway premises there would be outcry on here.

I don't see many advocating for arport security for trains (god knows why we have it for eurostar)
 

Bletchleyite

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If a member of railway staff got injured or killed by someone who bought a knife on railway premises there would be outcry on here.

It's not relevant, because railway premises don't have security cordons, so you could easily buy one elsewhere. And there would be nothing to gain from hijacking a train, as it can mostly be stopped from outside and in any case you couldn't do anything more than smash it into the buffer stops.

Knives (folding penknife type) are permitted on Eurostar for precisely that reason despite the "airport style" security. It's bombs, guns etc (i.e. potential tools of mass murder) that their security is interested in.

As for the cockpit door, if it had not been reinforced there is a good chance the other pilot, assisted by cabin crew and passengers, could have taken over control of the aircraft; there was certainly evidence that they had been attempting to do so by smashing things into the door. Therefore, the door was part of the cause of the crash.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
It's a trivial risk. How many people have been injured from a knife sold at a Swiss airport? How many have been killed driving to the airport? How many hours/weeks/years/lives have been spent queueing for security theatre?

It's worth noting that Geneva's security, run by the local police I believe, is one of the most professional setups I have seen. Not the quickest (the new UK setups where several people can prepare at once seem the best for that, e.g. Edinburgh and Luton), but certainly run very professionally.
 
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Butts

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It's not, it's for a very good reason - to avoid accidental activation causing a baggage fire.

I understand that, my point is it's not being enforced. On my trip to Geneva I had one lighter loose on me and a couple in my rucksack - none in clear bags !!
 

Bletchleyite

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I don't see many advocating for arport security for trains (god knows why we have it for eurostar)

Its potential as a high visibility IRA target in the 1990s is the main reason. Then we get to "would you sign off removing it"?

Of course Thalys have since added it because of the risk of gun-toting Islamic terrorists (which I only partly get, as they would kill more people by shooting at the security queue than anything on board).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I understand that, my point is it's not being enforced. On my trip to Geneva I had one lighter loose on me and a couple in my rucksack - none in clear bags !!

It's very difficult to enforce because a lighter (in all its many shapes) is not very visible on an X-ray. It impresses me how good staff can be at finding things on those.

However, because of the good reason (which is safety and not security-theatre-related), I would hope most passengers would respect it.
 
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Tetchytyke

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Well thats ok then, instead of mitigating the risks by not selling sharp bladed articles lets just leave it up to the passengers and crew to sort out...doesn't matter if one of them gets killed or injured in the process does it.

I had a pizza in Frankie and Benny's airside at Luton a while back, and was given a steel knife to eat it with.

How far do you want to take it?

The door didn't kill anyone, it was a very disturbed pilot for which next to nothing can prevent.

It was a "very disturbed pilot" who, because of the cockpit design, was able to prevent the 150 passengers and crew overpowering him. If the door had other override mechanisms he'd have been stopped doing what he did. The desire to prevent people deliberately flying a plane into something solid enabled someone to deliberately fly a plane into something solid.

If someone wanted to re-enact 9/11 now, they'd just need to nobble a commercial airline pilot, except this time you wouldn't have the chance of a United 93-style revolt.
 
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ComUtoR

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I don't see many advocating for arport security for trains (god knows why we have it for eurostar)

Eurostar goes international.

Not sure if you need airport style security to go from West Dulwich to London Victoria
 

Phil.

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It's a trivial risk. How many people have been injured from a knife sold at a Swiss airport? How many have been killed driving to the airport? How many hours/weeks/years/lives have been spent queueing for security theatre?



You can control the risks on the street, or at a station, it just costs time money and civil liberties.



Except 150 undisturbed passengers who can overpower him without a locked door?



I don't see many advocating for arport security for trains (god knows why we have it for eurostar)[/QUOTE]

Because Eurostar thinks it's an airline on rails. Actually it's because the government tells them to. The same government that tells TOCs to keep making security announcements that passengers never listen to.
 

Butts

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Why would a terrorist want to go through all the hassle of Airport Security when you could access a property in Hounslow and take your pick of the Aircraft that pass overhead at low level every minute or so. A land to air device
would do the job a lot more easily and far less riskily.

Similalry with a Train just leave a suitcase with a bomb in it and get off the train before it arrives at say Kings Cross and remotely detonate it.

Why have we not had attacks of this nature when they are so simple to execute ?
 

Bletchleyite

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I'd imagine somewhere between the "security services" in fact doing their job rather than threatening to "destroy or damage" peoples' unattended luggage, and there not actually being all that many people who actually want to do nasty things like that.
 

Iskra

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Why would a terrorist want to go through all the hassle of Airport Security when you could access a property in Hounslow and take your pick of the Aircraft that pass overhead at low level every minute or so. A land to air device
would do the job a lot more easily and far less riskily.

Similalry with a Train just leave a suitcase with a bomb in it and get off the train before it arrives at say Kings Cross and remotely detonate it.

Why have we not had attacks of this nature when they are so simple to execute ?

Simple, really;

Surface to air missiles are quite hard to come across and cost millions.

It's also quite hard to assemble enough of the chemicals for bomb making without arousing suspicion.

Also electronic communication has made the job of the security services much easier, as it's a lot easier to intercept and filter en mass. This is how most terrorists these days seem to be caught- through careless use of electronic communication.
 

Mag_seven

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We saw the chaos this morning when a nutter with no explosives managed to hi-jack a plane - imagine if he had a Swiss Army Knive!
 
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