Flight Threats Still Stalk Us 20 Years After 9/11
As the country reflects on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, Captain Joe DePete writes about what still needs to be done to keep our skies safe. Capt. Joe DePete is president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, representing more than 60,000 pilots in the U.S. and Canada. He also flew KC-130s in the Marine Corps.
By Joe DePete
As America prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we need to ask whether we’ve done enough to prevent the next attack. Whether we have properly honored the pilots, flight attendants, passengers, first responders, and others who died by doing all we can to secure our skies. As the president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), I can tell you we have not.
With each passing year, the images of 9/11 have faded a bit for many Americans, but pilots think about 9/11 every day we go to work. Every day we taxi, takeoff and land. To be sure, air travel is safer today than on September 10, 2001. The Transportation Safety Authority (TSA), created in 9/11’s wake, has implemented changes and security improvements as new dangers and attempts to breach our defenses have surfaced. I’m grateful that no American jetliner has been hijacked during this time, and that no life has been lost in our skies as a result of a terrorist act. But we must not forget the shoe bomber (2001) or the transatlantic aircraft plot (2006) or the underwear bomber (2009) or the cargo planes bombing plot (2010). Surely countless other terrorists attempts are known only to our intelligence agencies.
As a proud Marine veteran myself, I grieve for the American service members and civilians killed by terrorists last month in Afghanistan, and am reminded once again that al-Qaeda and ISIS—diminished, but not destroyed—remain a real threat to our homeland. It’s worth revisiting the 9/11 Commission Report, which cited a “failure of imagination” and complacency as culprits. Warning signs were ignored. Well, pilots are taught to never ignore alerts or flashing lights, and we’ve identified three key changes needed to make our skies safer:
- Add secondary flight deck barriers
- Prosecute air rage perpetrators
- Strengthen security on aircraft that fly cargo
Read more about these key changes and what must be done to keep our skies safe here www.foxbusiness.com/markets/20-years-9-11-victims-skies-secure-air-line-pilots-association