Saturday, February 28, 2015

The real background on man who rushed AA cockpit door

Good morning ... I'm back after a few days off. The one airline-related story in the last week that has generated an enormous amount of often hysterical news coverage and media comment involves the young Yemeni man who rushed the cockpit door of an American Airlines flight, screaming "God is great." As everyone who's heard of the incident knows, passengers on the Chicago-to-San Francisco flight were naturally freaked out. Who wouldn't be if you were trapped on metal tube in the sky with a nutcase? The man was subdued and the flight landed safely.

The real background on man who rushed AA cockpit door

Good morning ... I'm back after a few days off. The one airline-related story in the last week that has generated an enormous amount of often hysterical news coverage and media comment involves the young Yemeni man who rushed the cockpit door of an American Airlines flight, screaming "God is great." As everyone who's heard of the incident knows, passengers on the Chicago-to-San Francisco flight were naturally freaked out. Who wouldn't be if you were trapped on metal tube in the sky with a nutcase? The man was subdued and the flight landed safely.

Now seems the hissy fits by some commentators, who want the incident to be about jihadhists runniung loose across the country, were a little premature. The 26-year-old was appears to be an unemployed, mentally unstable individual who happens to be from a country that harbors terrorists.  The portrait of him that is emerging doesn't indicate that he was a would-be terrorist himself, or at least not a very good one. He turns out to be a more run-of-the-mill disrupter of an airline flight, the kind that has become commonplace lately. Here is a detailed news story by the AP of the incident and the man involved.

Another news story, from a San Francisco Chronical reporter who was at the man's arraignment, describes some of his mental problems. 

What happened to calm down the American passengers and crew and avert disaster were two things that security experts have said since the Sept. 11 attacks were likely to happen if a real terrorist ever tried again to hijack a U.S. airliner: The attempt would fail because airliner cockpit doors have become impenetrable, meaning this guy couldn't have gotten to the controls of the jet if he wanted to, and passengers are willing to risk their own safety to fight with a disruptive person, as United Flight 93 passengers proved on 9/11. We have pretty much accepted in this country that we must spend billions of dollars on airport security measures designed to keep weapons and explosives off planes. Fortunately, the most effective deterrants to terrorists on planes are less costly, or in the case of travelers' natural instincts to save their own lives, free of charge. 

Tom Belden
About this blog
Tom Belden has been reporting about Philadelphia International Airport and other air travel subjects for more than 20 years, writing columns for The Inquirer's Travel and Business sections. His reporting (with colleague Craig McCoy) on baggage handling problems in Philadelphia have been credited with helping to improve the system. His previous blog was called Road Warrior. He can reached at tbelden@phillynews.com. Reach Tom at tbelden@phillynews.com.

Tom Belden
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