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Crew acted appropriately during EgyptAir hijacking

Local aviation law attorney says crew followed proper procedures

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The crew working on the EgyptAir flight that was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus, appears to have followed the proper procedures to deal with a hijacking, according to Jacksonville aviation law attorney Ed Booth.

The plane was supposed to fly from Alexandria, Egypt to Cairo. It was forced to land in Cyprus. Booth says the flight likely landed in Cyprus because it was nearby when the hijacker threatened people in the plane’s cabin.

“What I know about this EgyptAir hijacking is that there was a threat from the cabin communicated to the cockpit that a person was wearing an explosive vest,” Booth said. “That caused the pilot to follow protocol and make an emergency landing at the nearest suitable airport.”

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, most commercial airlines have cockpits which are secured with an armored door. Once the door is locked it is basically impenetrable, according to Booth. Booth also said the cockpit crews are trained to ignore threats in the cabin.

“If the crew is told, ‘We’re going to start executing passengers if you don’t open the cockpit door’ the pilot is trained not to open the cockpit door under any circumstances.” Booth said. “This prevents a 9/11 situation.

Booth said in the United States flight crews are trained to evacuate the plane after an emergency landing. Commercial jets are equipped with sliding side windows and escape ropes, so the pilots are trained to go out the window.

“The purpose of this is to deprive the hijacker of anyone on board capable of flying the airplane,” Booth explained. “It turns it from an aviation situation to nothing more than a hostage situation in a building.”

Booth said he’s surprised the entire crew did not leave the plane like they are trained to do, but says there may have been circumstances that prevented them from leaving the cockpit. Most of the passengers on the plane were released by the hijacker, but four crew members and three passengers were held hostage.