Evaluation Of The Idea Of Arming Pilots With Weapons

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Arming Pilot with weapons a good idea? Most people on planet earth today prefers air transport more than any other mode of transport domestically or internationally as their means of travelling from one destination to another. But one of the major issue faced by airline companies and the ordinary population that uses air transport as their means of travelling is the security and safety of the passenger including the pilot in terms of aircraft hijacking. Aircraft hijacking can also be referred to as air piracy where the hijackers took control of the flight and forced the pilot to fly according to their orders which sometimes results in loss of lives of the passengers including the pilot as well or sometimes, it may include the authorized pilot or co-pilot exploiting the hijacking. Unlike the usual hijackings of land vehicles or vessels, skyjacking is not devoted for robbery or stealing: most aircraft hijackers aim to use the passengers as hostages, either for financial ransom or for some governmental or administrative concession by authorities which normally includes an armed standoff through a period of negotiation amid hijackers and authorities followed by some form of payments or some sort of decisions that emanates best with the interest and concern of the hijackers.

This has now raises questions above the safety and safe keeping of airline passengers and the pilot which has understood one of the solutions raised were the carrying of weapons in the cockpit by pilots on board. Arming pilots with weapons on board any domestic or international flights a good idea? There has been many questions and criticisms made by critics and specialists from different professions and fields of study about this planned idea of pilots carrying weapons on board passenger air company for security and safety reasons. This essay outlines a brief history of aircraft hijackings that had occurred some years back. It also gives the positive and negative aspects of why pilots should be armed, and why pilots should not be armed and points out some of the key reasons supporting that pilots should be armed with weapons while on board any domestic or international flights. Aircraft transport which includes jet engine aero planes for airline companies provide a suitable and fastest mean of transport for passengers and cargos from one destination to another which makes life much easier, because of this most people chooses air transport as their mode of transport. One of the major issue faced by airline companies regarding the safety and security of its pilot and passengers is aircraft hijacking which sees the lives of the pilot and the passengers at stake.

This is one of the main drive behind the proposed idea that pilots should now be armed with weapons on board any domestic or international flights regarding such circumstances. As seen in Papua New Guinea in 2007 on November 20th, two Australian pilots had their hands handcuffed to each other after a plane hijacking situation. And were later found by the Papua New Guinea Port Moresby based police rapid response unit task force team after their plane was hijacked and robbed. The Australian pilots were flying a huge amount of cash worth around 2 million Australian dollars from the capital Port Moresby, to a bank in Western province in PNG were they were held up by the two armed escort security guards. The pilots at gunpoint were demanded to land down on a disused airstrip near an island in Port Moresby and were stripped naked, handcuffed and covered in mud by the robbers and their accomplishes who were waiting there. The bandits made away with the two million Australian dollars to a boat and headed for the mainland. Staffs at the Jacksons International airport alerted the police after they noticed that the plane sends off a distress signal which sees the PRRU task force after the plane hijacking incident located the plane and the two Australian pilots alive (ABC News, 2007).

In 3rd November 2000 a similar incident also occurred in PNG between Wau, a small scale mining township in Morobe province and Garaina in Central Province. Where a Cessna 402 light aircraft was hijacked and landed at Garaina airstrip where the hijackers robbed the plane for the gold it was carrying that worth around one hundred fifty-five thousand US dollars. The plane was on its route from Nadzab airport to Wau both in Morobe Province and from Wau to Jacksons Airport but was hijacked between Wau and Jacksons and landed on Garaina airstrip where the hijackers made away with the gold on foot towards the Morobe coast (The National, 2000). This are the aircraft hijackings that occurred in Papua New Guinea alone. Many aircraft hijackings occur in other parts of the world as well. One of the hijackings that made headlines across the globe was the September 11 attacks in 2001 in New York City located in the Northern American Continent, this attack is the main reason why we have all this international laws and regulations regarding security and safety measures of airports and airplanes that is active in most countries around the world today, such as the security check on passengers boarding the plane thoroughly for any substance of harm.

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The September 11 attacks in New York City where four planes had been hijacked by terrorist groups crashed into the two World Trade Centre towers, the other hijacked plane crashed near the Pentagon House in Washington which houses the world’s top Americas military Generals, while the other hijacked plane crash in a farm in rural Pennsylvania. Many lives were lost that day, almost seven thousand lives are dead or missing in the attacks. It’s the September 11 attacks that changes the aspect of international laws on different mode of transport. The idea that is to be proposed by the Airline Pilots Association of North America and other continents as well which includes the arming of pilots with weapons in case of such incidents, raises questions over this the idea whether or not pilots should be armed (ABC News, 2001).

In one of the hijackings in the United States of America includes a man who became known as D. B. Cooper embarked a plane in Portland Ore. Armed with a bomb he forced the flight to Seattle, he freed the passengers in exchange for $200 000 and a parachute and ordered the plane to take off again. Once in the air he jumped off the plane with his bag of cash and was never seen again, that hijacking was in 1971 (ABC News, 2001). In 1968 a similar plane hijacking occurred and is perhaps the longest lasting hijacking in history. The hijacking occurred in July 23rd by three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. An El Al journey from Rome to Tel Aviv was hijacked and directed to land in Algiers. There were 22 hostages in total including the pilot and the cabin crew members, the hostages were released a month later on August 31st 1968 (NY Times, 2016). The same group who hijacked the EL Al flight from Rome to Tel Aviv also hijacked five planes in 1970, four destined for New York, one for London. The hijacking was to demand the militants imprisoned by Israel. Three of the five planes hijacked was forced to land at Dawson’s Airfield, a former British Air Force base in isolated region of Jordan, whereas the fourth plane was diverted to Egypt.

The cabin crew and the passengers on board the fifth plane from Amsterdam toward New York overpowered the hijackers on board and made an emergency touchdown in London. That was the major terrorist hijacking attempt to capture the media’s attention among the Palestinians and the Israelis over their ongoing conflicts, no one died during that hijacking (NY Times, 2016)Singapore Airlines flights SQ 117 was hijacked by four passengers who were believed to be members of the Pakistan’s Peoples Party on 26th March 1991 after it took off from Kuala Lumpur. The plane was hijacked to Changi Airport with 114 passengers and 11 crew members including the pilot, unfortunately all the hijackers were killed by special forces commandos of the Singapore Armed Forces, as the hostages were rescued safe and unharmed. Singapore’s next encounter with hijackings was on 30th October 1977 involving a Vietnam Airline Aircraft which was on a domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh city to Phuguoc Island.

The pilot of the airplane was forced to land in Singapore after a refueling stopover, the hijackers were later surrendered to Singapore authorities after cooperation (Ere sources, 2004). Again in the Asian continent in July 1948 four Chinese hijackers seized control of a Cathay Pacific flight from Macau to Hong Kong. The consequent struggle between the hijackers and the cabin crew led to a crash killing all 25 aboard (South Asian Analysis, 2006). Still in the Asian Continent, this hijacking took place in India in January 1971 where two members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) hijacked a plane to Lahore and blew it up with explosives supplied by their counterparts at Lahore after releasing passengers and the crew members of the aircraft (South Asian Analysis, 2006). In one of the hijackings in Europe it involved a Japanese Airways flight from Amsterdam to Tokyo on July 20th 1973, which constitute a group of Palestinian and Japanese terrorist. The aircraft bound for Tokyo was diverted to Tripoli in Libya and blew with explosives after the passengers and crews of the plane were released (South Asian Analysis, 2006). On extremely rare cases of plane hijackings involved the crew members, whether the pilot or the cabin crews on board. In March 2015 a German wings pilot intentionally crashed a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf in the Alps after locking out his fellow pilot. Similar hijackings took place on one of the Ethiopian Airlines flight where the pilot was locked out of the cockpit and plane was piloted by the co-pilot from Addis Ababa to Switzerland instead of Rome.

The co-pilot later requested asylum in Switzerland, that incident happened in February 2014. Also in 1953 a Czechoslovak airline pilot flying a DC- 3 on a domestic route with 25 passengers on board was flown to Frankfurt and requested asylum there. A self-hijacking in October 1998 occurred when the pilot of an Air China Flight from Beijing to Kunming in Yunnan took it instead to Taiwan after threatening to crash it killing the passengers if the other members of the crew prevented him from flying to Taiwan (South Asian Analysis, 2006). Viewing back through the civil aviation history on aircraft hijacking, many of these hijackings were hostage related, either for monetary payoff or for some political or administrative concession by authorities. Various purposes have driven such occurrences, including demanding the release of certain inmates, highlighting the grievances of a certain community, political asylum or using the aircraft as a weapon to aim particular locations. In some countries the airliners have securities on board their domestic and international flight.

These particular securities on board their domestic and international flights are known as Air Marshal, and they oversee the security and safety of passengers on board. It was not active in some countries before the New York World Trade Center Bombings but became as Civil Aviation International Law after the attack in New York City. Many questions were raised against the idea of pilots carrying weapons with them, some critics and specialist from different fields of study outlines that this idea is not going to work out as pilots are trained to fly planes and not shooting weapons. Well if you look at it closely the air marshal on board any plane is not enough. At least the crew members which includes the pilot most of all must at least trained to use weapons and basic martial arts to contained such incidents that are about to occur in which it can cause the lives of passengers and crew members on board. Therefor I strongly supports the idea of pilots carrying weapons with them in the cockpit as to stabilize any hijacking treats. To conclude, Aircraft hijacking or Air piracy is where hijackers took control of the plane and forced the pilot to fly according to their orders. Plane hijackings resulted in New York World Trade Center Bombings which resulted in many deaths. In other Parts of the world also, aircraft hijacking resulted in many lives being lost as stated in the essay. Aircraft hijacking is the worst in terms of comparing to other mode of transport. So there’s no reason to against this idea of pilots carrying weapons, it is for the safety and security of the passengers and himself including his crew members.

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