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Frankly everyone on this side of the pond including the Commander in Chief, President Obama are disgusted by the significant failure of the international airport security systems that allowed the 23 year old, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to pack his underpants with the organic explosive compound Pentaerythritol (PETN) before departing Lagos bound for Detroit via Amsterdam. Fortunately he only succeeded in burning his privates instead of bringing down the NWA Airbus A330 over U.S. soil on Christmas Day that which was his plan.
From a General Aviation perspective, all of us rosined up our finger tips to type letters of disgust in response to the proposed Large Aircraft Security Program that the Department of Homeland Security's' Transportation Security Administration (DHS/TSA) attempted to foist upon us last year; now we see that the brain-drain at the DHS/TSA are truly smoking their lunches instead of eating in the canteen, proof positive of this provided by the emergency security initiatives that this all-powerful, military-like branch of the government implemented on Boxing Day:
- Passengers subject to "pat-down" searches before boarding, on top of the usual security checks
- Limit of 1 carry-on for international flights (instead of a carry-on AND a laptop)
- No access to hand luggage at all during the flight
- You must stay in your seat for the last hour of flight
- A ban on leaving possessions or blankets on laps during this hour
- On-board entertainment systems that display map information will not be turned on
The DHS/TSA Secretary, Ms. Janet Napolitano recently stated at a press conference that was held 'post chrimbo' that the organization that she leads "...has a layered approach to security that allows us to surge resources as needed on a daily basis. We have the ability to quickly implement additional screening measures including explosive detection canine teams, law enforcement officers, gate screening, behavior detection and other measures both seen and unseen. Passengers should not expect to see the same thing at every airportâ€¦"
Maybe behaviour detection would be better employed in the DHS/TSA offices in Washington, DC instead of continually experimenting with today's modern-day airline passenger, whom now is treated like a noisome mutant piece of self-loading freight, instead of a valued fare paying customer and free-thinking human being. Watch out Ms. Napolitano, the people of this country might choose to exercise their U.S. Constitutional Bill of Rights, Eighth Amendment to prohibit the government from imposing cruel or unusual punishments upon 'We the People.'
The Airlines are no better either. Since deregulation their 'modi operandi' has been to lie-to and cheat their passenger clients, while the executive management continues to stuff their pockets either with the constant hand-outs given by the government, or with the monies freed-up through the cost and service cutting schemes that these villain executives have palmed-off onto their paying public. Did you know that domestic carriers gorged themselves at the trough shortly after the DHS/TSA was formed, and $1.5 Billion was dumped into the carrier's greedy mouths to help them off-set the cost of stiffening up their X-Ray and Metal-Detecting procedures? Of course now the Airlines conveniently transfer the cost of DHS/TSA security measures to their customers, just like they do with how they pretend to pay their share of the FAA's budget, i.e. they pay nothing, but still get money! Don't even get me started on the hand-out (Business Interruption Insurance) that they all received post 9/11. That appeared to be a bottomless pot at the time; And still the Airlines are bankrupt?!?
Surely these blatant acts of corruption and incompetence must surely all bode well for all of us within the General Aviation field instead of hurting us? Unfortunately not. The popular media hates us; the man and woman on the street hate us; even many elected representatives in Washington hate us. But I would contest that it is less hate, and instead is more like envy. We represent a transportation system that still allows for its passengers to drive up to the door of their waiting aircraft. Once seated their 'flight' starts and taxies for take-off, all the while the much envied riders can still 'yack' on their cell phone, eating or drinking whatever they like. Carrying whatever they need to bring with them on their trip. Going bear hunting in Alaska? Don't mind my Winchester 44-40 carbine over there. Going to a vintage wine auction in New York? Don't mind my case of 1787 Chateau Lafite behind my seat; I'm feeling rather stinky, do you mind if I go in the back and take a shower while we are leveling off? Oh while I'm gone, would you like to bring out your Theuns Prinsloo Timmra folding knife and do some wood carving, so you are completely relaxed before they serve our dinner to us?
And why not, eh?
Unfortunately just like it is still required for Navigators to be on board U.S. aircraft while they are operating within central Russian airspace; our government buffoons will most likely still proceed in passing an LASP rule whereby a Federal Air Marshall must ride on all of our flights, and the 3 ounce rule for liquids must be adhered to! Progress? Yeah-you show it to me cause I'm not seeing it!
When I read about the Federal Air Marshall Deputy training program that the DHS/TSA offers to any gun-happy, eligible Airline Pilot, I think how simpler it might be if upon check-in, all passengers were issued a machete, a can of mace and a truncheon. Trust me, there won't be any more instances of attempted terrorism on board commercial aircraft, including the type of terrorism created by the DHS/TSA and certain Airline Employees themselves.
Maybe when I become the King of the World, I will implement these changes. In the meantime we shall all try and keep our heads down in our General Aviation Industry. I do hope that you have an absolutely fabulous 2010.