How Safe Are Our Skies? Assessing the Airlines' Response to Terrorism

By Rodney Wallis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8

The Lessons: Past and Present

“Terrorism directed against civil aviation will not go away!” These words, cited earlier in this book, are extracted from the 1989 Beaumont Memorial Lecture given before the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. They represented then, and do so today, the primary lesson everyone has to take on board. Events of September 11, 2001, have shown that terrorism is very much with us in the third millennium. It has not gone away. President George W. Bush in his first State of the Union Address emphasized this fact. He told Congress that “tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large.” Effective defenses against those evil men who perpetrate horrendous acts of airborne terrorism must be put in place. This has to be done and seen to be done if the traveling public, especially the American traveling public, is ever to regain its confidence in flying. It is a big task, but if the lessons of the past are learned and acted upon, it can be achieved.

Commercial airline CEOs must recognize their responsibility for protecting the traveling public. Ostrich-like attitudes ignoring the basic facts of international political and cultural scenarios will leave airlines, and thus their customers, vulnerable. Following the shooting down of the Iranian Airbus in the Gulf by the warship the USS Vincennes, non-American airline security managers recognized that an

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