NEWS

Pilot Angered He Was Not Notified of Attempted Attack While in Air

By Matthew Harwood

An airborne U.S. commercial pilot who learned of the failed attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner on his iPhone on Christmas is angered at  federal authorities for not notifying him of the attempted attack.

"I am a commercial airline pilot who was deep over the Atlantic flying from St. Kitts and Nevis for nearly six hours on Christmas Day following the attempted bombing on Flight 253," wrote pilot Steve Danyluk at CNN.com. "I only learned about the incident after landing when I looked at the CNN Web site on my iPhone. I'm justifiably furious that I was not notified while airborne."

Danyluk argues that the United States government needs to not only review the intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian jihadist, to board Northwest Flight 253, but also the aviation security procedures, or lack thereof, initiated after the botched attack occurred. 

Specifically, why weren't the actions the Transportation Safety Administration outlines in our aviation manuals initiated, and what took place inside the federal Domestic Events Network in the immediate aftermath of the terror attempt?

Following the 9/11 review, the DEN was given the task of instituting new procedures for controllers on how to communicate information about suspicious aircraft throughout the system.

The Washington-based DEN Operations Center is supposed to allow federal agencies with jurisdiction over the security of U.S. airspace to communicate information in real time. So why, after eight years and billions of dollars, was the information concerning the incident available to me only on my iPhone?

Danyluk says the U.S. and the commercial aviation sector are lucky Abdulmutallab's attempt wasn't just one part of a coordinated attack to bring down multiple U.S.-bound planes. In 2006, British authorities disrupted the transatlantic terrorist plot where British jihadists conspired to detonate liquid explosives on at least 10 airliners bound for North America.

Another "silver lining," according to the pilot, is that Abdulmutallab's incompetence fortunately showed that post-9-11 security systems have not been correctly implemented.

"Now that the gaping holes in our response have been exposed, let's do a thorough review of what took place on Flight 253 and ensure we have professionals in decision-making positions who will execute the plan if this happens again," Danyluk wrote.


♦ Photo by caribb/Flickr

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