Missing Libyan jets: don’t panic

Pentagon, 9/11/2001

Pentagon, 9/11/2001

You’ll recall those missing 11 Libyan airliners I wrote about the other day; a post in The Aviationist, quoting an executive familiar with airline operations**, agrees it’s something to be concerned about, but we shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of launching another 9/11-style attack:

“I agree the risks [of a missing plane] are there but I would be cautious in several regards: aircraft condition, availability of actual pilots and airfield conditions, etc,” says Tom Meyer, who’s worked for over a decade in all areas of the airline’s operations with Top US Air Carrier.

In fact, the missing airliner must be hidden somewhere (an kept away from the indiscreet eyes of satellites and U.S. drones snooping on terrorist bases in the desert) but a difficult-to-find airport is quite unlikely an airport capable to serve an airliner.

“Airline Ground Operations will need to include: Ground Power or APU [Auxiliary Power Unit) Availability, Fueling, Weight & Balance, FOD Free Ramp, Clear Taxiways and Runways…If any of the items is missing or done incorrectly, the whole scenario unravels. Sorry, Airline operations are complex,” Meyer explains.

It should be kept in mind that the 9-11 hijackers were exactly that: terrorists who seized control of the planes after they were already in the air. They just needed enough training to be able to pilot them to their targets. As Meyer mentions, the logistical needs of maintaining the planes and the facilities they need to take off are not inconsiderable, nor easily concealed.

There’s more, including mention of the difficulty of getting past air defenses, at least in Europe, in post-9/11 age.

Still, no one imagined guys armed with box cutters could carry out the biggest terrorist attack in history, either. Panic may not be warranted, but prudent concern and a strong effort to find those planes is.

**(He’s credited as working with “Top US Air Carrier.” I wonder if that’s a placeholder that got left behind.)

via Blogs of War

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