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Turning the cockpit doors against the good guys

Turning the cockpit doors against the good guys

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Old Apr 5, 12, 12:24 pm
  #1  
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Turning the cockpit doors against the good guys

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archive...e_captain.html

I thought it would be interesting to think of countermeasures to "bad guys" turning the cockpit door against the "good guys". The "bad guy" could be anyone, but it would most likely be a pilot gone mad or hijackers who have stormed the cockpit, most likely by buying a ticket in row 1, waiting for a pilot to use the bathroom, then, in a matter of seconds, shooting the pilots and FAs up front and locking the door. (Yes, I know it's a movie plot threat, but I'd rather have a free solution here before the TSA spends a few billion on a solution. This is primarily academic.)

Here are some solutions I have sofar:

- No way to completely lock outsiders out of the cockpit, and all crew know the combination. This would be useless on a small airplane if the hijacker has shot the pilot and FA.

- The cockpit door lock has a numeric keypad on both the inside and outside, but the inside knob remains continuously free for exit. Combination required to enter the cockpit. In addition, opening the door automatically unlocks it, and the door cannot be locked except by closing the door, then punching in the combination on either the inside or outside. Assuming that no crewmember will divulge the combination at gunpoint, you have not only prevented cockpit access, but you you have also prevented a hijacker from turning the cockpit door against passengers and crew.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 12:33 pm
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I think the days of forcible hijacking with the intent to crash the plane are all but over. As the story goes on UA93, the PAX nowadays would likely disable a hijacker. People wishing to simply destroy the plane or extort the plane or passengers still could with bombs or weapons on board but i doubt we will see planes crash into buildings in the future because of hijackers.

I think one of the more immediate threats is from airline personnel themselves. They are trustworthy people but I can see a morally compromised or emotionally distressed pilot (think about that shouting FA recently) waiting for the copilot to leave to use the washroom and then takes control of the plane themselves. There is nothing you can do about the threat from within.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by zoobtoob View Post
There is nothing you can do about the threat from within.
...except hope that the inside attack isn't too wide-ranging. For an example, look at what happens when individual LEOs break the "Blue Code of Silence".

If one crewmember on a flight decides to go nuts, everything should be OK. If they _all_ go nuts, you suddenly are depending on the passengers alone to overtake all the crew and land the plane.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by mahohmei View Post
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archive...e_captain.html

I thought it would be interesting to think of countermeasures to "bad guys" turning the cockpit door against the "good guys". The "bad guy" could be anyone, but it would most likely be a pilot gone mad or hijackers who have stormed the cockpit, most likely by buying a ticket in row 1, waiting for a pilot to use the bathroom, then, in a matter of seconds, shooting the pilots and FAs up front and locking the door. (Yes, I know it's a movie plot threat, but I'd rather have a free solution here before the TSA spends a few billion on a solution. This is primarily academic.)

Here are some solutions I have sofar:

- No way to completely lock outsiders out of the cockpit, and all crew know the combination. This would be useless on a small airplane if the hijacker has shot the pilot and FA.

- The cockpit door lock has a numeric keypad on both the inside and outside, but the inside knob remains continuously free for exit. Combination required to enter the cockpit. In addition, opening the door automatically unlocks it, and the door cannot be locked except by closing the door, then punching in the combination on either the inside or outside. Assuming that no crewmember will divulge the combination at gunpoint, you have not only prevented cockpit access, but you you have also prevented a hijacker from turning the cockpit door against passengers and crew.
On the planes that I am usually on, WN 737's, it would be a relatively simple matter to install a pull down barrier that blocks the aisle from the galley and cockpit area. The crew could do whatever is needed, return to the more secure cockpit, and the galley area reopened.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 3:52 pm
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Too complicated and opens up just as many holes as it plugs.

Cockpit doors are reinforced and bulletproof, but they are most definitely NOT impenetrable, give the right amount of time and people that know how to breach a door.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 4:26 pm
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Double door like El Al, which no other airline will adopt since a row of seats (=$$$) would have to be sacrificed.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 10:00 pm
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How about going one step further? Could we not just simply design airplanes to have no internal access to the cockpit at all?

The cockpit could have a separate exterior entrance, have its own separate lavatory available only to cockpit personnel, and have meal/beverage service capabilities through a small armored slot in the window. This would prevent hijackers from taking over the aircraft, as nobody could come or go from the cockpit while the plane was in flight.

Of course we could also work to establish computer and communication systems that would effectively let pilots on the ground at airport facilities take over flying the plane in an emergency. If some sort of distress call was initiated from the plane, control could automatically be handed over to the ground through a secure communication link thus locking out local control over the aircraft through cockpit controls.

What are everybody's thoughts around these ideas?
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Old Apr 6, 12, 4:59 am
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Simple solution: Give cockpit crew empty wide mouth Gator Aid bottles and keep the cockpit door shut!
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Old Apr 6, 12, 5:51 am
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Originally Posted by mahohmei View Post
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archive...e_captain.html

I thought it would be interesting to think of countermeasures to "bad guys" turning the cockpit door against the "good guys". The "bad guy" could be anyone, but it would most likely be a pilot gone mad or hijackers who have stormed the cockpit, most likely by buying a ticket in row 1, waiting for a pilot to use the bathroom, then, in a matter of seconds, shooting the pilots and FAs up front and locking the door. (Yes, I know it's a movie plot threat, but I'd rather have a free solution here before the TSA spends a few billion on a solution. This is primarily academic.)

Here are some solutions I have sofar:

- No way to completely lock outsiders out of the cockpit, and all crew know the combination. This would be useless on a small airplane if the hijacker has shot the pilot and FA.

- The cockpit door lock has a numeric keypad on both the inside and outside, but the inside knob remains continuously free for exit. Combination required to enter the cockpit. In addition, opening the door automatically unlocks it, and the door cannot be locked except by closing the door, then punching in the combination on either the inside or outside. Assuming that no crewmember will divulge the combination at gunpoint, you have not only prevented cockpit access, but you you have also prevented a hijacker from turning the cockpit door against passengers and crew.
Despite TSA's abysmal record of finding guns going through the checkpoint, the odds that a hijacker would be armed with a gun and be able to shoot anyone or anything are vanishing small. Knives and explosives are a far more likely threat. And even with knives and/or explosives, the odds are that any would-be hijacker on a US flight would be beaten to death by a terrified, paniced mob of passengers before he actually got control of the plane.

So, while your scenarios are not impossible, I think they're unlikely enough that we don't need to waste a lot of time or money trying to counter them. That's the TSA mentality, treating the least likely threats as imminent - spending billions on scanners that can't detect underwear bombs to detect underwear bombs; forcing hundreds of millions of travelers to remove shoes for x-ray inspection that can't spot shoe bombs to detect shoe bombs; limiting liquids to keep imaginary liquid explosives off the planes; forcing travelers to state their names out loud in a feeble and futile attempt to trip up someone who is traveling under false ID; interrogating travelers to watch for mythical micro-expressions... it seems to go on forever.
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Old Apr 6, 12, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by mahohmei View Post
If one crewmember on a flight decides to go nuts, everything should be OK.
Perhaps, as long as they have not bypassed the checkpoint with a weapon, explosive or incendiary. Here's a list of all the pilots, flight attendants and other airline employees that have been caught with a firearm in the sterile area of an airport in just the last five years.

After the crash of PSA 1771, all crewmembers were required to go through the checkpoint. Well, except for all the airports where they didn't. Currently, the Association of Flight Attendants is pushing for even more loopholes with the Known Crewmember program.

"Convenient"? Well, beyond all the last line of defense and background check rhetoric, at least Ms. Nelson is being honest about that little aspect of being able to bypass screening. Why is it that all the flight attendants that bleat on about how 9/11 Changed Everything™ only use it for the defense of why the traveling public should endure overstepping security theatre from the TSA? If they wanted to be intellectually honest, they would point to PSA 1771 and demand that everyone that enters the sterile area of an airport go thought he same common sense security screening.

Just a few weeks ago, there was an incident aboard an AA flight that was still on the taxiway. A flight attendant got on the PA and said things like ‘I’m not responsible for this plane crashing,’ In the ensuing altercation, two crewmembers required hospitalization due to injuries. Then last week, there was the JetBlue pilot that had to be forced out of the cockpit and restrained in flight. Does the next incident have to involve a weapon before the advocates of Known Crewmember finally realize this is a dangerous loophole?




Originally Posted by clrankin View Post
How about going one step further? Could we not just simply design airplanes to have no internal access to the cockpit at all?

<>

What are everybody's thoughts around these ideas?
You're talking about a major redesign and certification of all Part 121 aircraft. You do realize who's going to be footing the bill for this proposal, don't you?

In August 2000, before hardened cockpit doors, a mentally disturbed passenger tried to break into the cockpit of a Southwest flight. He was restrained with such force that he eventually died from his injuries.

What makes you think they would be any more successful now?
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Old Apr 6, 12, 3:36 pm
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Originally Posted by clrankin View Post
How about going one step further? Could we not just simply design airplanes to have no internal access to the cockpit at all?

The cockpit could have a separate exterior entrance, have its own separate lavatory available only to cockpit personnel, and have meal/beverage service capabilities through a small armored slot in the window. This would prevent hijackers from taking over the aircraft, as nobody could come or go from the cockpit while the plane was in flight.
These days most planes have a crew of two. The Flight Engineer third position went out with 727s. However, there is a jump seat where a FAA or company check pilot sometimes sits to evaluate pilot performance. On long haul (I believe it is about the eight hour mark) flights a relief crew is carried and the off duty crew can sack out in the crew bunks on some planes. Now we are up to a minimum of five people in your proposed sealed off front cabin. How big a area is it going to be?

And what if both pilots have the fish and get sick? A deadheading pilot cannot enter the cockpit and replace them. The plane can also be in grave danger if a stewardess cannot enter the cockpit to reinflate the Ottopilot.

Finally a plan should "first do no harm." In the recent Jet Blue incident, the problem pilot exited the cockpit and a spare pilot entered the cockpit. Your proposal would prevent this and thus make the most recent event much worse than it actually was. For your proposed plan, No.
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Old Apr 7, 12, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by mahohmei View Post
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archive...e_captain.html

I thought it would be interesting to think of countermeasures to "bad guys" turning the cockpit door against the "good guys". The "bad guy" could be anyone, but it would most likely be a pilot gone mad or hijackers who have stormed the cockpit, most likely by buying a ticket in row 1, waiting for a pilot to use the bathroom, then, in a matter of seconds, shooting the pilots and FAs up front and locking the door. (Yes, I know it's a movie plot threat, but I'd rather have a free solution here before the TSA spends a few billion on a solution. This is primarily academic.)

Here are some solutions I have sofar:

- No way to completely lock outsiders out of the cockpit, and all crew know the combination. This would be useless on a small airplane if the hijacker has shot the pilot and FA.

- The cockpit door lock has a numeric keypad on both the inside and outside, but the inside knob remains continuously free for exit. Combination required to enter the cockpit. In addition, opening the door automatically unlocks it, and the door cannot be locked except by closing the door, then punching in the combination on either the inside or outside. Assuming that no crewmember will divulge the combination at gunpoint, you have not only prevented cockpit access, but you you have also prevented a hijacker from turning the cockpit door against passengers and crew.
I always wonder about these ludicrous scenarios that the paranoid among us love to play out in their heads, no matter how ridiculous. Let me ask you something. Do you lay awake at night worrying that the mechanic who serviced your plane followed the proper procedure? Do you worry that ever bolt was tightened and every hatch secured? Should there be a special new program to go over every maintenance procedure in triplicate? If not, why not? For all of the fear of terrorism, you're far more likely to die in a crash caused by a maintenance issue then any crazy attacking the cockpit. Heck, the pilot themselves is the biggest threat to the plane. Are they tired? Have they been taking medication? Did the follow the pre-flight check list? Flaps down on takeoff? Do a quick search of how many planes have crashed because of pilot error on takeoff. If you're so worried about "24" scenarios then those statistics might send you running to a shrink. Life is not threat free.
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Old Apr 7, 12, 11:16 am
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Originally Posted by clrankin View Post
How about going one step further? Could we not just simply design airplanes to have no internal access to the cockpit at all?

The cockpit could have a separate exterior entrance, have its own separate lavatory available only to cockpit personnel, and have meal/beverage service capabilities through a small armored slot in the window. This would prevent hijackers from taking over the aircraft, as nobody could come or go from the cockpit while the plane was in flight.

Of course we could also work to establish computer and communication systems that would effectively let pilots on the ground at airport facilities take over flying the plane in an emergency. If some sort of distress call was initiated from the plane, control could automatically be handed over to the ground through a secure communication link thus locking out local control over the aircraft through cockpit controls.

What are everybody's thoughts around these ideas?
Good grief is my first reaction. If you're going this far, why not simply fly the plane remotely - ALL the time.
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Old Apr 7, 12, 7:45 pm
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Originally Posted by clrankin View Post
How about going one step further? Could we not just simply design airplanes to have no internal access to the cockpit at all?

The cockpit could have a separate exterior entrance, have its own separate lavatory available only to cockpit personnel, and have meal/beverage service capabilities through a small armored slot in the window. This would prevent hijackers from taking over the aircraft, as nobody could come or go from the cockpit while the plane was in flight.

Of course we could also work to establish computer and communication systems that would effectively let pilots on the ground at airport facilities take over flying the plane in an emergency. If some sort of distress call was initiated from the plane, control could automatically be handed over to the ground through a secure communication link thus locking out local control over the aircraft through cockpit controls.

What are everybody's thoughts around these ideas?
ATR's are designed this way. However, the chance of one of these crashing due to mechanical failure or pilot error (as has happened) is orders of magnitude higher than somebody trying to get into the cockpit.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by Pesky Monkey View Post
ATR's are designed this way. However, the chance of one of these crashing due to mechanical failure or pilot error (as has happened) is orders of magnitude higher than somebody trying to get into the cockpit.
That is a perfect example of what I mentioned before. I can't for the life of me figure out why ATR-72s are still flying, especially in cold weather climates. It is one plane I will never fly on.
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