Airline Pilots and Security

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Skid, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Yes. We had security before TSA and it worked better and was cheaper than the TSA. You are mistaking no TSA with no security.
     
  2. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    I do not think individual security would be practical. Most would likely screen to some degree, and I just can imagine a scanner at every gate.
    Yes, I do think the TSA makes things safer. I do think we would have had another major event since 9/11 if there was no TSA, and that includes people and property on the ground.
    Don’t get me wrong.... I’m not saying TSA is perfect. I’m sure there is a better way, but I’m not sure what that is.
     
  3. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Shucks... 9/11 was before the TSA.
     
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  4. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    Fair enough and thanks for answering. Yes, I think the evidence is fairly clear that there is no statistical evidence the TSA has improved the safety of flight. I think there needs to be a tradeoff between security and convenience which is best determined by the airlines, having been made fully responsible for the consequences (which they are not presently). They would likely have some security protocols in place, deciding on that with their insurance companies, to try and ensure safety to the best reasonable way.

    But perfect safety in any undertaking is never achievable, it is always a tradeoff.
     
  5. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    Not sure exactly the argument here. But the argument that the fact there have been no major attacks since the inception of the TSA implies the TSA works is not supported by the numbers. I have looked at this quite carefully. As above, the rate of attacks by non-crew members on airplanes before and after the inception of the TSA is NOT statistically significantly different. That argument is a form of the post-hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.
     
  6. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    Another question for @Kritchlow on this. What evidence would persuade you that the TSA does not improve the safety of the traveling public? Something that could in principle exist or be produced?

    This is often a good way to look at this sort of discussion. Because if none can be named, then essentially the belief is non-falsifiable, there is no way to disprove it. Then it is just a belief not really debatable, like many people's belief in religion.
     
  7. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'm no fan of the current M.O. of the TSA, and I've no doubt there's a better way. That said, I think it is a fallacy to compare before/after/9-11 security statistics. Today there are far more individuals and groups with the motivation, inclination and resources to do bad things than there were in the "innocent" days before 9-11. 9-11 was truly "unthinkable" before it happened; now it's not only "thinkable" but indeed "do-able" in the minds of many. It's a different world. :(
     
  8. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Yeah. No ****t.. and the terrorists on 9-11 did not violate any security policies until they Entered the cockpit. They knew and took advantage of a weakness in how crews were trained to handle hijack situations. No need for the TSA. I
     
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  9. PeterNSteinmetz

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    I think I understand the concern, and the prospects of another such attack are truly frightening.

    I agree that the comparison of attack rates before and after 2001 needs to be carefully considered. The rate of such events is very low so the power to detect a change is low. I point this out mostly to caution that we can't just follow the TSA line of "well, there have been no attacks since 2001 so what we are doing is useful". That fact alone is not good evidence that current TSA policy works. For that argument to be valid, one would have to demonstrate that there has been an increase in such attempted attacks or that the TSA has thwarted a fair number of same.

    But the numbers show the TSA's ability to catch contraband in checkpoints is pathetic (4%) and they have been unable to demonstrate they have thwarted attacks which would otherwise not have been caught, even in classified hearings with the Senate. Very little evidence to suggest that the TSA has been useful in suppressing an underlying much greater rate of attempts.

    Another piece of evidence which indirectly suggests that the rate of people wanting to do such things in airports has not increased significantly is the fact that in the US there has not been a rash of bombings on the TSA security lines. Clearly the TSA can not have screened the people in line to go through their screening (infinite regress). Those lines are often very long and placing people in a very vulnerable position in terms of either a firearms attack or explosives. (The security screening bullpen at DEN with the unsecured overlying galleries truly frightens me in this regard.) Yet none have been attempted so far. This suggests to me that there are other factors at work which make attacking airports and airlines less attractive.

    I agree we need to find better solutions. I think that will come from privatizing airline security and return finding the appropriate balance between security and convenience to one that is made by the airlines, their insurers, and their customers, not some bureaucrat in Washington DC. It is not a trivial thing to figure out the best balance and may not be the same for all airlines, airports, etc.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
  10. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I had a corkscrew in my bag that they took from me. I had flown with it several times but my wife reminded me that those trips were in our airplane. I carry a cheapo cigar torch lighter in my bag. Technically it's illegal so I don't carry one I care about. It's never been questioned.
     
  11. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Im glad to see you agree.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
  12. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    And I've asked this before actually, but have not received a response. What evidence would persuade you that the TSA is not effective in terms of improving safety? Evidence that is in principle producible.

    If there is none, then that is essentially a non-falsifiable belief. Maybe that is just your heartfelt sincere belief I suppose. And then it is just likely best to acknowledge that and agree to disagree.

    If there is such evidence in principle, then one can of course discuss how close the available evidence is to one side or another. But otherwise it is not really a subject which can be rationally discussed, right?
     
  13. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    How does the lack of a major attack prove that the TSA hasn’t been beneficial to the flying public? I could argue the fact that because the TSA is doing such a great job, an onboard attack hasn’t happened. What makes you certain that without the implementation of the TSA post 9/11 that the statistics would still read the same?
     
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  14. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Well wait.... which is it?

    Security better prior to TSA, or the TSA rules now banning what the 9/11 terrorists used?
    You seem to be contradicting yourself.
     
  15. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    I’m not contradicting myself. The TSA as an organization, run by the government, with government employees and government bureaucracy is not necessary and should be shut down. Security should go back the way it was prior to 9-11 because there was nothing wrong with the actual organization and employees providing the security. We just needed policy changes to address a new type of threat. We never needed the federal government to take over. Does that clear it up for you?
     
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  16. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    You have to admit, that’s a pretty silly argument.

    To paraphrase :

    “There hasn’t been any major attacks since the inception of TSA, so that implies their organization isn’t very effective.”

    Say what?!

    Hahahaha!
     
  17. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    OK, fair question. I will try to explain my reasoning further here, though some of this will be drawn from post above, so please forgive any repetition. In brief, I would not claim to be certain of that (again, please don't engage in a straw man), but I would say there is no evidence that the TSA screenings have prevented attacks.

    One can compute the rates of events involving non-crew members using an airplane as a weapon before and after the inception of the TSA in November 2001. There are a very small number, so this feasible. One possible outcome of doing this would be that the rates were statistically significantly greater before Nov 2001 than after. That is not the case, there is no statistically significant difference.

    It is often asserted by the TSA, their employees, and defenders of their screening that the fact that there have been no such attacks since Nov 2001 proves that the TSA screening is effective. I point out the statistics of this NOT to prove that it means the screenings are ineffective, but rather to show that it does NOT prove that they are.

    Since in general the burden of proof in an argument is on the party who asserts the existence of something (otherwise all sorts of crazy things can argued to be true, such as the existence of incorporeal dragons in my garage), the burden of proof is on those who assert that the TSA screenings are cost effective and improve safety.

    I would assert there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest they are not effective. Amongst these are: the detailed analysis of the fact that the money spent on them could be spent 100X more effectively on saving lives, that TSA screenings probably indirectly increase traffic deaths, that the TSA are grossly ineffective at catching contraband (4%), that there have been no bomb attacks on the lines to enter TSA security screening, that it is easy to construct actual weapons from items purchased beyond their screening system, and that they have been unable to produce any evidence of attacks which they have mitigated which would not have been mitigated otherwise.

    In balance then, I think the sum of the evidence suggests that the TSA screenings are not effective at improving public safety.

    Does that answer your question?
     
  18. jonvcaples

    jonvcaples Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A basic tenant of physical security is to intercept the threat as far away from their objective as possible. Aviation security does NOT do this because little (ok nothing) is done until the airport. Are folks on the no fly list banned from purchasing tickets? In any case nothing happens until the potential bad person is at the airport. No screening or flagging of ticket, credentials, or inspection of luggage.

    Nor do we have effective screening/inspection/providing secure storage at the airport. Sure MOST TSA folks try to do a good job but the results are pathetic. Most people I know have had items stolen from checked baggage or evidence their luggage was searched with no attempt to protect or safeguard the contents. The FAA and TSA admit that their own self testing of trying (succeeding) to introduce decoys shows the screeners find less than 25% of the simulated threat devices. If we were serious about security we would follow the Israeli protocol. Also, we would have at least one air marshal on per every 70 seats.

    Also, we should ban disruptive passengers for life. Maintain a database of them that includes biological markers (retina scans, finger prints, and DNA samples to start) and arrest them should they ever try to purchase a ticket by any means.

    We all have certain inalienable unfettered rights. Life, freedom, pursuit of happiness... The right to deprive others of their rights does not appear on the list.
    Kick these around for a bit...
     
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  19. PeterNSteinmetz

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    That isn't what I said now is it? Please stop engaging in the straw man fallacy.

    Perhaps it would be better to think of what evidence would convince you that the TSA screenings are not effective. Is there any in principle?
     
  20. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I’m still not sure how you come to that conclusion, but okay.
    How so?
    No it really doesn’t. To be clear, I’m not trying to create a ****ing contest here, but I’m also just not following your side of the coin I suppose. I don’t think we’re going to come to an agreement here, but I appreciate you taking the time to explain your rationale.
     
  21. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think that an important question is, "How many attacks has the TSA deterred, if any?" I don't think we have any way of finding that out, which leads me to the conclusion that both of the following propositions are unproven:

    1. The TSA deters attacks.

    2. The TSA doesn't deter attacks.​
     
  22. EvilEagle

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    You've never seen it so it must not happen?
    I've never seen any IT people fight management so it must not have happened anywhere ever, right? :p
    Ahhh... so you think the pilots have control of the pilot unions? That's a good one. We can't even get organized enough to get our pay and work schedules right! 90% of people in the world are concerned with themselves and their families well being WAY before anything else. When we are comfortable that the top priorities are being taken care of, people start making other people their priorities. (most people not all). I can't ever see a political organization like a pilot union getting past the contract, fighting among each other for power, schmoozing Congress for whatever they are after this week and whatever else they have going on to decide to bring a fight on a whole different front to the airline industry about the way the customers are being treated by the TSA (who doesn't work for the airlines).

    Don't confuse pilots with the pilot union. When you say "pilots don't care" - you are talking about all of us on this board that are airline pilots that try to do as much as we can for our passengers, answer all the absurd questions with a smile and hustle between gates to get you there on time. I completely disagree with you when you say it that way. Now, if you say "pilot unions don't care" I'm not going to argue - passenger experience with TSA is definitely not on their list. There's a difference.

    Are the pilot unions doing anything at all? A cursory glance at www.alpa.org shows that their advocacy items are currently:
    Alpa-PAC
    Cargo Safety & Security
    Flag-of-convenience schemes
    Maintaining Safety Standards
    Pilot Supply & the future of the profession
    Safe Shipment of Hazardous material
    Secondary Barriers
    State-owned enterprises
    Unmanned aircraft systems
    State of our skies: Canada
    Cybersecurity
    FFDO program
    Fly America & GSA City-Pairs
    Foreign Ownership & control & cabotage
    Voluntary Safety Reporting programs
     
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  23. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    I believe the rate of catching contraband in those tests was actually only 4%. It may be that the sort of draconian measures which would be necessary to further suppress these types of extremely rare threats are not really compatible with a relative free society.
     
  24. jonvcaples

    jonvcaples Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Arguing TSA must be effective because there have been no attacks is crazy. First, I am certain there have been attempts that were thwarted with no information having been reported. Second, absence of proof is not proof of absence. If a woman never gets pregnant is it because:
    1-never had sex
    2-uses effective birth control
    3-only has sex with other women
    4-some of the above
    5-all of the above
    6-some other reason

    To quote Einstein not everything that can be measured can be counted and not everything that can be measured counts
     
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  25. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Unless I’m just interpreting it other than face value, that is essentially what you said.
    I don’t think there is any. I take comfort in knowing every Tom, Dick and Harry that boards my metal tube that will travel hundreds of miles per hour through the sky have been screened for weapons or devices that may kill us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust the general public.

    CA2E1A1E-0B42-4860-8217-07C27C321398.jpeg
    The TSA confiscated each of these from a variety of idiots who tried to board a commercial airliner in 2018. I’m happy to know they did that.
     
  26. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    That's a good question. They have not been able to produce any evidence of attacks mitigated which would not otherwise have been mitigated, even to classified Senate committees. There have been no bomb attacks on their screening lines in the US, which are pretty obvious targets. There are gaping holes in their protocols such as the ability to make and construct weapons using materials purchased past their checkpoints. Their ability to catch contraband is pathetic.

    Does all of that add up to it is unproven? I'm not sure I can agree. Not proven to a high degree of certainty, I would agree. But I think the preponderance of evidence is that they are not effective in improving public safety.

    Since their screening protocols involve a lot of money, possible leading to additional highway deaths, and massive invasion of privacy, I would argue that the balance of evidence does not favor the continuation of TSA screenings.
     
  27. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Explain?
     
  28. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A "balance of evidence" would involved listing both arguments for and against a given measure. So far, I haven't seen anyone do that.
     
  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Numerous airports still have screening per terminal, not central screening and MOST terminals are a majority of one carrier. This is pretty much how it was prior to TSA and wasn’t any particular problem. (Except did the whole “as far away as possible” thing, but centralized screening just creates a new, target.)

    My assertion was that individual airlines be responsible for their security. It doesn’t matter where it happens, read ticket, direct customer to whatever screening line that airline installed and paid for. Contractor paid for by all, by however many tickets he directs where, sitting at direction podium.

    All sorts of ways to handle that. Moving people like cattle to various areas and assigned seats isn’t a problem anywhere further down the line, it’s not a problem in the terminal either.

    Heck we already have it. Got Pre? Got TSA Pre-Check, headed to KCM? Or are you only worthy of cattle class standard TSA screening?

    You know what line to get in. Not a big logistics problem. People know very well how to queue for the most part.

    Correct. TSA wasn’t needed to change those procedures. In fact, they changed for the passengers and crew before the day was over. Flight 93 was the end of passive cabins. And that won’t be changing back. A cabin will rip anyone threatening them apart now. TSA didn’t pay for the better doors, the procedures, the video cameras in some cases... that was all the airlines.

    The private security in place pre-TSA couldn’t have banned those things afterward? Why not? Hang up a sign and say we don’t allow these things on our flights anymore.

    Fair point.

    But I don’t see a single “Something that makes passenger experiences better” in that list, so what was the point of sharing it... in this context anyway?

    “Recommendation Committee to Tell Our Owners Not to Stuff Humans into Seats that Place Knees in Nose or Where Shoulders Overlap Four Inches”.

    LOL. It’d be a start. The worker groups need a little outward facing hint that they “officially” care, even if swat pitch and width recommendations are ignored. That one is hard though because it comes with the implied “We’ll take less profit to make it better...” which isn’t what a negotiation team wants brought up. I get it.

    But I also doubt you’ll be getting any chance anytime soon to stand at the cockpit door and say, “Hey, did you like our new better security screening process and those nice big new seats? I’m glad you spent $200 more on us! We figured out what you like!” Lol.

    Oh well. Status quo.
     
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  30. PeterNSteinmetz

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    I guess I will have to lay it out in explicit detail then. Here is my quote which you like
    You then paraphrased as
    So my statement was there is an argument "The fact that there have been no major attacks since the inception of the TSA implies that the TSA works". I then further stated that argument is not supported by the numbers.

    Let the assertion that there have been no major attacks since the inception of the TSA be X. Let the assertion that the TSA works be Y. The argument could then be cast abstractly as X implies Y. I said that argument is not supported by the numbers, in these abstract terms, it is not true that X implies Y (or that is not supported by the numbers).

    You then paraphrased that as
    That argument, which you attribute to me, in terms of the same variables, would be X implies not Y.

    Does that help explain how there is a material difference between the paraphrase and the original statements? If not, here is a further explanation using the rules of logic.

    The rules of logic are that saying 'X implies Y' is false is the logical equivalent of saying its contrapositive, namely, 'not y implies not x'. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraposition) In concrete terms here that means my two statements would be the equivalent of "If the TSA does not work, then there there may have been major attacks since the inception of the TSA". But you see, I did NOT say that either.

    Your paraphrase, improperly attributed to me, is abstractly 'x implies not y', which is the negation of my assertion. Of course I would assert it is false, as it is the negation of what I said.

    And such misattribution is a classic example of the straw man fallacy.

    The book "Game of Logic" by Lewis Carrol (author of Alice in Wonderland) is a fun way to study these things.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
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  31. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    Please my post #70 above (in response to your #69), which includes a reference to the scholarly literature on the subject. If you have further questions after reading the article, I am happy to discuss.
     
  32. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    Well thanks for trying to understand the other side of the coin. Seems like an honest failure to be clear enough. It is often the case that apparent disagreements online are due to not understanding things given the limitations of this type of forum.

    I am hopeful that my detailed explanation in post #110 and citations to the literature in post #70 will help clarify such. But if they don't, this has been polite, so I am happy to try and further discuss.
     
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  33. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    buh buh buh the 2A! :D
     
  34. PeterNSteinmetz

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    OK, so let's try, shall we. I have listed briefly I think a majority of the major evidence that suggests the TSA is not a cost effective way to improve the safety of the traveling public.

    Some arguments in favor of the TSA screenings being effective that have been adduced are:
    There have been no major attacks since the inception of the TSA in November 2001.
    They confiscate a lot of items from travelers, some are weapons which could be used in an attack.

    Any others which you find particularly convincing?
     
  35. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Things that have improved aviation security.
    1) Flight 93 and hardened cockpit doors. The days when you could hijack an airliner with a box cutter are over. Period. You may be able to blow it up mid air, but not use it as a weapon. Which leads us to reason 2.
    2) 9/11. How are you going to top that? You aren't. Any attempt is, at best, going to be an also ran.

    The surprising thing (to me) is that the security lines at airports have not been targeted more often. Perfect place - you can drag in a stack of suitcases full of explosives / shrapnel nearly the size of a small car and walk up to a large crowd with them (an amazingly large crowd at Orlando after a holiday - I've waited in that line...) without anyone batting an eye. You would kill way more people than you would downing an airliner.

    Examples of things that get past TSA.
    1) Kids. Kids not bright enough to not get into wheel wells. One even survived.
    2) Kids. Elementary school kid who out smarts the system to get on a plane without a ticket.
    3) Girlfriends. Aircraft cleaner brings his girlfriend to work to "show her what it's like inside an airliner."
    4) Drugs. Smuggling rings involving baggage handlers and/or flight attendants.
    6) Weapons. (Inert) Hand grenades that weren't found until the return trip.
    And who the heck knows what else that didn't make the news.
     
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  36. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I suppose we’ll agree to disagree.
     
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  37. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Cleared for Takeoff

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    OK, that sounds good. It has been polite, so as I noted, happy to discuss further in the future in you like.

    It has also been somewhat useful to me as I am giving a talk on this subject in January.

    Regards.
     
  38. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Of course. Not here to create a ****ing contest, just a difference of opinion.

    Cheers!
     
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  39. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Remember when TSA promised that foreigners would never be able to take flight training again without someone knowing...

    And then told independent CFIs who wouldn’t know a well forged document from a hole in their head, that they’re in charge of looking at those documents and keeping copies of them...

    At their houses...

    And maybe the TSA will show up once in a while to see if you’re keeping the copies you’re supposed to...

    But no, they don’t want the copies... no place, even digital, to store them...in all the vast government server space at AWS or anywhere else...

    So we don’t know why we are having you all collect them, but it sure looks like a good idea on paper...

    ... you have an extra filing cabinet around that isn’t secured to put people’s personal info in, right?

    And the mandatory training on this every two years? Not about how to spot a fake, just about how long to keep their paperwork for them.

    But hey, at least this post will get you to ask your CFI where they store that copy of your ID and decide if it’s pretty easy for an identity thief to get to.

    The More You Know... LOL LOL LOL.

    I recommend you teach them how to digitize and encrypt it all. On their already malware infected computer. Oops.

    Y’all have fun with that. Hahahaha.
     
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  40. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    One area that, I believe, that TSA has had an impact on is the guys that would have put a surprise in the wife's bag to save the cost of a divorce. That used to be a thing.