PLANE TALK: GOT A QUESTION? ASK THE CAPTAIN!
Do you have a question about airline safety, flight etiquette, jet lag, or air travel in general? Submit your question and look for answers in a future column.
"What about pilot and flight crew security screenings at the airport? Are they a necessary safety precaution or just another hold up?" - Elaine, Boston, MA.
Every time I hear a passenger say that pilots should be searched, I shake my head in disbelief. This is like searching a brain surgeon for knives before entering the hospital’s operating room…where he is to perform brain surgery…yep ….you’ve guessed it….using knives. A pilot with or without guns, knives, grenades, “water pistols”, you name it, can NEVER be stopped if he wants to crash the jet. Crashing is as simple as a flick of the wrist when the aircraft is on short final. So, should we delay pilots and crews at security with xrays and pat downs? No. But there's so much more to this story than what's being reported.
Let’s start with a saying from the wise old man, Ben Franklin: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Ben Franklin's Contributions to the Conference on February 17 (III) Fri, Feb 17, 1775
Ok, readers, I’m sorry for not jumping on this topic sooner, but I was soooooo busy with my tie dying and silk screening T-SHIRT business.
HOT ITEM T-shirts that I recommend you NOT wear through airport security:
"TSA: Training Sexual Assault"
“If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”
There are many more items of this nature already on the street, but you get the idea, I’m sure.
Please, Please, Please …..Remember this!! First and foremost…..anything you say to TSA can and will be used against you….no joke!
Are you feeling lucky?
This all falls under monstrous “Homeland Security Act”….and your name may find its way onto the “HOMELAND SECURITY's Watch LIST” and that will be a very bad, bad, thing.
OK, now……..Show me the Money $$$$$
The push and pulls of this new system have been at work, behind the scenes, since day one of implementation. Smart phones have been virtually on fire due to all the flight crews calling their chief pilots, then, their chief pilots calling their Senior V.P. of corporate security, who then lays out the serious “rub” or “bones of contention” to the TSA head. Pun not intended….of course.
Crews have been delayed at TSA “choke points”, I mean check points, which eats into FAA’s max duty time for the flight crew utilization. This extra time, now wasted, has been and will be costing many of the regional carriers to time out on their available flight hours….even before the first snow flake lands on the wings of the aircraft. And we all know what happens system wide when those little white snow flakies appear, now don’t we? Hmmmmmmmmm?
This is just the tip of the iceberg….so to speak. Now there is more bad news for all you flyers
The FAA’s de-icing tables have been revamped. For example, in the past, that process of washing the wings and applying anti-icing fluid might have given the pilot a 20-minute window to get to the runway and take off. Now he may have only a 10 to 15 minute window, before he must return to the gate for a re-do. And we all know how passengers like to sit in cooped up airplanes for hours.
I smell mass flight cancellations in the wind.
But I digress…. let’s get back to the TSA issue…”nuke me now or feel me later.”
Another flight crew issue that’s coming to the forefront is Workmen’s’ Compensation.
Crewmembers who have, in their past, been sexually assaulted are now melting down due to the new “improved” enhanced physical probing. Crewmembers are “overstressing” and can’t physically do the job they are trained to do.
Cancellations of flights for this situation continue to occur.
Other issues are the number of radiation exposures of the flight crew. Over a long career, this could be a problem.
Many times I’ve heard passengers say that pilots should be searched. A pilot with or without guns, knives, grenades, “water pistols”, you name it, can NEVER be stopped if he wants to crash the jet. Crashing is as simple as a flick of the wrist when the aircraft is on short final. If you think the other pilot can “save the day”, you might as well take your drug test now, because it’s just not going to happen.
Using the same crazy rationale, after 9/11, when the military was assigned to airport watch, I saw a soldier being “wanded” for weapons…..with his arms outstretched….yep…you guessed it….while holding an M-16 in one hand.
I feel safer now.
The company’s $$$$-guys finally get their way and the pilots get their pass. Supply two company photo IDs and an active rotation sheet and they are good to go.
Answering your questions in our ASK THE CAPTAIN column is, Michael Wiggins, a retired airline pilot who has spent the better part of his life shuttling passengers around the globe. Do you have questions for YourLifeIsATrip's airline pilot? Submit your question and look for answers in a future column.