25 March 2011

Common Sense Prevails

Flight deck barriers will not be required on planes with fewer than 19 seats despite the 2008 attempted hijacking of a domestic Air New Zealand flight. Somali refugee Asha Ali Abdille was last year sentenced to nine years in prison with a minimum non-parole period of six years for her actions on the flight from Blenheim to Christchurch. She took three knives onboard the plane and told staff she had a bomb. She was overpowered by crewmembers and the plane was landed safely. In 2009 the Government mandated strengthened flight deck barriers on aircraft with more than 30 seats and undertook a feasibility study for requiring the same on 19-seat aircraft. Today, Transport Minister Steven Joyce said while the barriers were technically possible on the smaller aircraft it would add to the cost of flights to provincial destinations and could prove cost prohibitive for small operators. Officials did not find the requirement in any other countries for aircraft of that size. "Strengthened flight deck barriers have been introduced so far for about half the number of domestic aircraft with more than thirty seats." Once completed 92 percent of domestic Air New Zealand flights would have strengthened cockpit door. Security committees were also now in place in 19 regional airports, Joyce said.

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