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Friday, 29 December, 2000, 11:38 GMT
Security in the skies
cockpit
Cockpits contain tools the crew can use against attackers
An unlocked door is all that stood between the British Airways flight crew and the crazed passenger who stormed into the cockpit and tried to seize the controls.

Former BA pilot Eric Moody told BBC News Online that although most American airlines keep cockpit doors locked for security reasons, this is not BA's policy.

"BA can see no reason to keep their flight doors locked," he said.

But Mr Moody added that the cockpit would have contained tools that the crew could have used against their attacker.

"They keep an axe in the cockpit to break out in the event of an emergency," he said.


Short of flying security and armed guards around, there is only so much you can do

Air Transport Intelligence editor, Kieran Daly
Mr Moody also said the cabin crew have access to restraints that would have been used to contain the passenger who entered the flight deck.

A BA spokesman confirmed that the door to the cockpit was unlocked.

"It is normal procedure as the cabin crew are in and out of the flight deck during the flight," he told BBC News Online.

Air Transport Intelligence editor Kieran Daly, said the cockpit door could not be locked as it would leave stewards and stewardesses vulnerable to attack from passengers on the other side.

"The reality is that there is quite a lot of coming and going from the main cabin.

"There are a lot of times when you have to open the door and attackers are going to find a way through."

Possible attackers

Mr Daly added that it is impossible for any airline to guarantee security.

"Short of flying security and armed guards around, there is only so much you can do.

"The whole theory of security in aircraft is to prevent the sort of people who you do not want from getting on the plane in the first place.

"But there never can be absolute guaranteed screening of all possible attackers," he concluded.

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