False Alarm Highlights Hijacking Decline; Post-9/11 Security Cited


Last week’s false alarm about a hijacking in Amsterdam revived memories of an aviation era when hijackings were more common, reports the Associated Press. But things have changed, thanks to the post-9/11 world of ultra-tight security checks at airport gates, air marshals on flights and reinforced cockpit doors. Figures from the International Civil Aviation Organization show seven “unlawful seizures” of planes in 2001, the year of the al-Qaida attacks on the United States. The highest number in any year since was five in 2009. The group recorded no airliner seizures in 2010 or 2011.

Despite the drop, authorities are far from complacent and attempted attacks continue. The group said acts including sabotage attempts rising from just two in 2005 to 14 in 2009 before dropping off sharply to three in 2011. Jim Marriott, chief of the organization’s Aviation Security Branch, said the group is organizing a high-level conference next week aimed at further boosting security. “The prevention of hijackings and other acts of unlawful interference with civil aviation is of utmost importance,” he said. Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International, said the current security measures are a strong deterrent. “People feel that the powers that be are very security conscious and are looking out for people,” he said.

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