• November



How safe are cockpits?

Aviation experts weigh in after security scare on board Horizon Air flight

The attempt by an off-duty pilot to shut down the engines of a U.S. airliner in midflight highlights the threat that insiders pose to aviation safety with their ability to go where passengers are prohibited.

Events like the one Sunday on a Horizon Air jetliner are very rare, but they are potentially devastating.

The captain and co-pilot prevented disaster by subduing the off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who — from his perfect vantage point in the cockpit jump seat — tried to cut fuel to the engines.

“We’re just lucky he wasn’t flying the plane when he decided to do this. What’s going to stop that?” said Jon Loffi, a longtime law enforcement officer who teaches aviation security at Oklahoma State University and wrote a paper on identifying insider threats.

There is something of a see-something, say-something mindset in aviation, where employees are encouraged to voluntarily report anything that raises a safety concern, including suspicious behavior of colleagues. It’s not clear how often that happens, however — if ever.

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Story credit: Wavy.com; Norfolk

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