By Roger Henning
Homeland Security, Asia Pacific
We applaud the decision today, to adopt the US cockpit security protocol, to ensure two crew members are on the flight deck at all times during flights by Australian commercial aircraft
It is a great start, in addressing major holes in airline security to hopefully avoid another Germanwings-style suicide disaster.
Technology eliminated the need for Flight Engineers creating a gap in manning levels! Some engineers who retrained to become pilots, now Captain B-747 and other wide body aircraft.
- Training for cabin crews will need to be up-scaled immediately, before the new requirement can become effective. The most urgent need is for senior flight attendants to know more than their evacuation drills, including how to over-ride cockpit lockout systems. (We do have further comment in respect to other locking solutions). In addition all Flight and Cabin crew members should undergo public safety and security awareness training, as per our recommendations for all airport staff.
- Pilots should undergo similar scrutiny, to the reviews and vetting procedures applied to anyone cleared to Top Security (TS) classification, by the Australian Government. In addition to normal medical examinations, commercial pilots should be required every two years, to supply three different referees, each time they are reviewed. Referees to be checked by telephone interviews undertaken by trained Aviation authorities. Legislation is needed to ensure GP’s be legally required to report anything which could impact on the safety of passengers, (in the same way communicable diseases must be reported). This may include stress, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, or change in mental status (due to divorce, financial pressure or other family matters).
- Pilots should be advised prior to departure of their flight of the details of anyone who has been removed by authorities from the terminal and prevented from boarding. This would help enable a higher status of security and safety awareness, to be disseminated to the Flight and Cabin crew for that particular flight. Such action may help prevent an inflight incident involving others who have bypassed the security, which captured family members or associates.
HSAP has a current submission under consideration by the Senate Inquiry into Aviation and Airport security. Human factors including HUMINT (Human Intelligence/intervention) should be vital components in the AVSEC mix, as exposed by this latest mass casualty event.
Australian pilots are highly trained and disciplined, when it comes to flying aircraft and overcoming inflight challenges, such as the Qantas A380 near miss, which ended in an emergency landing in Singapore
As with airport security, technology is never a total solution and mitigation can best be achieved by training and engaging the total workforce, on the ground and in the air.