Woman has a panic attack — why the fighter jets?

I must be missing a crucial part of this story:

Two Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon jets were scrambled to assist an American Airlines passenger plane shortly before it landed at London’s Heathrow airport on Tuesday after a woman attempted to gain access to the flight deck.

“A female passenger had become distressed during the flight and reportedly attempted to gain access to the flight deck.

“The passenger was calmed by flight attendants but as a precaution a priority approach to London was requested and police were requested to meet the aircraft on arrival.”

Now, aside from the stupidity of trying to access the flight deck, what’s the point of the two fighter jets? Are they going to blow up the plane because a passenger tries to access the cockpit? It sounds like no logic was applied here, since this passengers seems to have just been scared and having a panic attack. I’m sure the flight attendants knew that, so I’m not quite sure why….

Filed Under: American
  1. The fighter jets always seem like a bad idea, the only purpose they serve is to shoot down the plane and kill everyone on board.

    A little much, I’d say.

  2. It does seem silly up until the point pax does gain access to a cockpit and manages to fly the plane into down town London.

  3. Well, do we know how the whole story? E.g., did the pilots report a problem with someone trying to break into the cockpit to ATC (which then scrambled the fighter jets) before they knew the full story?

    Yes, the fighter jets may turn out to be “overkill” in 99% of the cases (as you hopefully know, this isn’t the first time an airliner was met by fighter jets for a non-issue). But in the one case where they might have been useful they arrived too late. So ATC/FAA/NORAD/whatnot might nowadays choose to error on the side of caution.

    I’d think the RAF has a certain flight hour requirement anyway, so these pilots would get to fly training missions if they don’t intercept drunk/crazy passengers.

  4. I think the answer is: yes they would blow up the plane if they determined the plane had been overtaken and was likely to be slammed into a place with high population density. It’s a terrible thought that 300 people might die by having the plane blown up but compared to 9/11, that looks like the least bad alternative.

    A lot of seemingly dumb things are done in the name of aviation security. But just because something is done for aviation security doesn’t mean it is dumb.

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