Thursday, August 10, 2006

Perfectly imaginable

According to the British police, today's airline security scare would have been "mass murder on an unimaginable scale". This is just nonsense, this whole scenario was perfectly imaginable. I imagined it about 18 months ago and if they were doing their job, airline security experts imagined it years before. This technique has been successfully used already.

In 2002 a man in China took a bottle of petrol onto a plane and ignited it in flight. There were no survivors. I found out about this because I flew from Beijing to Tokyo and was required to check-in my bottles of spirits that I had brought from Ireland. They were also limiting soft-drinks to 1-litre and were even opening and smelling them at the security checkpoint. At first I thought it was just pointless beaurocracy but later I found out about the incident with the petrol.

Using this technique, 30 suicide "bombers" could take out >300 people each, all at the same time. No need for flight school, no need to take control of the plane, no worries about the passengers retaking control and causing the plane to crash before hitting a target. Just a bottle of petrol, a watch, some matches and plane ticket each.

If I thought of this after my trip to China, I presume the rest of the world's airline security people thought of it too but they have never done anything about it. I guess this is because it would simply be too disruptive and too expensive to do anything about it. Instead they decided to hope it never actually happened.

I guess their gamble payed off. The airline industry got another couple of years of profits without a major disaster. Makes you feel really inclined to trust them without your life!

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