CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A lot has changed in air travel since 9/11. The TSA was formed and most flights now contain armed Air Marshals to prevent hijackings.
But in a September security memo from the U.S Airlines Pilots Association, the chairman writes, “Bringing down an airliner continues to be the gold standard of terrorism,” and that “if anyone thinks that our enemies have ‘been there done that’ and are not targeting U.S. commercial aviation, -- think again.”
James Ray speaks for the U.S. Airlines Pilots Association and says, “The memo did come from our agency, and yes, it happened. The incident in question is real.”
Here is a direct quote from the body of the memo:
“A group of Middle Eastern males boarded in DCA. Shortly after takeoff, one got up and ran from his seat in coach towards the flight deck door. He made a hard left and entered the forward lav, where he stayed for a considerable length of time! While he was in there, the others got up and proceeded to move about the cabin, changing seats, opening overhead bins, and generally making a scene. They appeared to be trying to occupy and distract the flight attendants.”
The memo says an Air Marshal was on board and felt the movements were serious enough to get up and “make their presence known.” The pilot later demanded that the TSA give the plane a full inspection after landing, which they did.
The Transportation Security Administration wrote in an email that it “takes all reports of suspicious activity on board an aircraft seriously,” but they went on to say this matter required “no further investigation at this time.”
U.S. Airways likewise confirmed the Sept. 2nd incident from Regan National to Orlando on flight 1880. The airline responded Thursday to this story by writing,
“Four passengers on board US Airways Flight 1880 from DCA to MCO on Monday, Sept. 2 were detained by local law enforcement authorities upon arrival at MCO due to suspicious behavior during the flight. TSA performed a full security sweep of the aircraft before it departed for its next scheduled flight. The aircraft was cleared, and it departed on a slight delay as a result of the additional security precautions taken by US Airways and the TSA. While US Airways won’t discuss the details of security measures, its pilots, flight attendants and ground personnel work closely with each other and authorities to ensure a safe travel experience.”
U.S. Airlines Pilot Association spokesman, James Ray, says the flying public should not be concerned about these incidents because it shows how the security systems in place worked. Ray also said there is an abundant number of airline pilots who are armed in the cockpit and consider themselves the last line of defense. “If that door opens in an emergency like that, the attacker is going to get quite a surprise,” said Ray.