Aircraft hijacking

Aircraft hijacking

Hijacking (also known as skyjacking and aircraft piracy) is the take over of an aircraft, by a person or group, usually armed. In most cases the pilot is forced to fly according to the orders of the hijackers. However, in the September 11, 2001 attacks, the hijackers flew the aircraft themselves. In one case, the official pilot hijacked the plane, when he diverted his internal Air China flight to Taiwan. [cite news | title = Air China pilot hijacks his own jet to Taiwan | publisher = CNN | date = 1998-10-28 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-25 ] [cite web | author = B. Raman | title = PLANE HIJACKING: IN PERSPECTIVE | publisher = South Asia Analysis Group | date = 2000-01-02 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-25 ]

Unlike the hijacking of land vehicles or ships, skyjacking is usually not perpetrated in order to rob the cargo. Most aircraft hijackings are committed to use the passengers as hostages in an effort to obtain transportation to a given location. A 2000 Afghan hijacking of an internal flight, diverted to Britain, successfully gained political asylum for the hijackers. Other hijackers may hold the passengers to ransom. The 1971 hijacking of an American plane by D. B. Cooper to gain a ransom $200,000 is one of the only unsolved hijackings in the world, another being Malaysia Airlines Flight 653. Another common motive is publicity for some cause or grievance. Since the use of hijacked planes as suicide missiles in the September 11 attacks, hijacking is treated as a different kind of security threat — though similar usages had apparently been attempted by Samuel Byck in 1974 and on Air France Flight 8969 in 1994.

Hijackings for hostages have usually followed a pattern of negotiations between the hijackers and the authorities, followed by some form of settlement - but does not always meet with the hijackers' original demands. If the hijackers' show no sign of surrendering, armed forces would storm the aircraft to rescue the hostages.


"See also: List of notable aircraft hijackings"

The first recorded aircraft hijack was on February 21, 1931, in Arequipa, Peru. Byron Rickards flying a Ford Tri-Motor was approached on the ground by armed revolutionaries. He refused to fly them anywhere and after a ten day stand-off Rickards was informed that the revolution was successful and he could go in return for giving one of their number a lift to Lima. [An amusing footnote to this hijacking is that 30 years later the same pilot was again the victim of a failed hijacking attempt. A father and son boarded his Continental Airlines Boeing 707 in El Paso and tried to force him at gunpoint to fly the plane to Cuba in hopes of a cash reward from Fidel Castro. FBI agents and police chased the plane down the runway and shot out its tires, and the hijacking was averted. See [] ] Most hijackings have not been so farcical.

Dealing with hijackings

Before the September 11, 2001 attacks, pilots and flight attendants were trained to adopt the "Common Strategy" tactic, which was approved by the FAA. It taught crew members to comply with the hijackers demands, get the plane to land safely and then let the security forces handle the situation. Crew members advised passengers to sit quietly in order to increase their chances of survival. They were also trained not to make any 'heroic' moves that could endanger themselves or other people. The FAA realized that the longer a hijacking persisted, the more likely it will end peacefully with the hijackers reaching their goal. []

September 11 presented a unique situation because it involved suicide hijackers who could fly an aircraft. The "Common Strategy" tactic was not designed to handle suicide hijackings. This resulted in the hijackers exploiting a weakness in the civil aviation security system. Since then, the "Common Strategy" policy is no longer used.

Since the September 11th attacks, the situation for passengers and hijackers has changed. As in the case of United Airlines Flight 93, where an airliner crashed into a field during a fight between passengers and hijackers, passengers now have to calculate the risks of passive cooperation, not only for themselves but for those on the ground. Future hijackers may encounter greater resistance from passengers, making a hijacking more unlikely but, if they happen, bloodier. An example of active passenger resistance occurred when passengers of American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami on 2001-12-22, helped prevent Richard Reid from igniting explosives hidden in his shoes.


Cockpit doors on most commercial airlines have been strengthened, and are now bullet resistant. In the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and France, air marshals have also been added to some flights to deter and thwart hijackers. In addition, some have proposed remote control systems for aircraft whereby no one on board would have control over the plane's flight. [ [ EC FP6 SAFEE: Safe Automatic Flight Back and Landing of Aircraft] ] Airport security plays a major role in preventing hijackers. Screening passengers with metal detectors and luggage with x-ray machines prevents weapons from being taken on to an aircraft. Along with the FAA, the FBI also monitors terror suspects, and any person who is a threat to civil aviation is banned from flying.

In the case of a serious risk that an aircraft will be used for flying into a target, it may have to be shot down, killing all passengers and crew, to prevent more serious consequences.Fact|date=June 2008

Shooting down aircraft

Several states have stated that they would shoot down hijacked commercial aircraft if it can be assumed that the hijackers intend to use the aircraft in a 9/11-style attack, despite killing innocent passengers onboard. According to reports, US fighter pilots have been training to shoot down hijacked commercial airliners should it become necessary. [] Other countries such as Poland have enacted laws or decrees that allow the shooting down of hijacked planes. []


In a widely regarded decision by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, in February 2006, it struck down a law - "Luftsicherheitsgesetz" or "Air security law" - claiming such preventive measures were unconstitutional and would essentially be state-sponsored murder, even if such an act would save many more lives on the ground. The main reasoning behind this decision was that the state would be effectively taking the lives of innocent hostages in order to avoid a terrorist attack. The Court also ruled that the Minister of Defense is constitutionally not entitled to act in terrorism matters, as this is the duty of the state and federal police forces. "See the German Wikipedia entry, or [] "

The President of Germany, Horst Köhler, himself urged judicial review of the constitutionality of the Luftsicherheitsgesetz after he signed it into law in 2005.

International law issues

Tokyo Convention

See the United Nations website for full text on "Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft". []

Hague Convention

Signed at The Hague on 16 December 1970, the [ Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft] contains 14 articles relating to what constitutes hijacking, and guidelines for what is expected of governments when dealing with hijackings. The convention does not apply to customs, law enforcement or military aircraft, thus its scope appears to exclusively encompass civilian aircraft. Importantly, the convention only comes into force if the aircraft takes off or lands in a place different than its country of registration. For aircraft with joint registration, one country is designated as the registration state for the purpose of the convention.

See the United Nations website for full text. []

Montreal Convention

See the United Nations website for full text on "Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation". []

ee also

* Airport security
* List of notable aircraft hijackings
* List of Cuba-US aircraft hijackings
* List of hijacking of Indian aeroplanes
* D. B. Cooper
* [ Uli Derickson - Legacy of Courage]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hijacking — means to take over by force .Hijacking may refer to:In property: * Aircraft hijacking or skyjacking * Carjacking * Credit card hijackingIn internet technology: * DNS hijacking * Domain hijacking * IP hijacking * Page hijacking * Reverse domain… …   Wikipedia

  • aircraft piracy — air·craft piracy n 1: the hijacking of an aircraft esp. in flight; specif: the act of seizing control of an aircraft by force, violence, threat, or intimidation with wrongful intent 2: the felony of hijacking or seizing control of an aircraft –… …   Law dictionary

  • List of Cuba-US aircraft hijackings — Aircraft hijacking incidents between the United States and Cuba reached their peak in 1969. These incidents have variously been attributed to terrorism, extortion, flight for political asylum, mental illness and transportation between the two… …   Wikipedia

  • hijacking — Crime of seizing possession or control of a vehicle from another by force or threat of force. Although by the late 20th century hijacking most frequently involved the seizure of an airplane and its forcible diversion to destinations chosen by the …   Universalium

  • List of aircraft hijackings — The following is a list of notable aircraft hijackings around the world. List of notable aircraft hijackings 1960s *flagicon|Portugal1961: aircraft forced to circle Lisbon to drop leaflets. 6 hijackers were involved. *flagicon|Palestine… …   Wikipedia

  • List of accidents and incidents involving commercial aircraft — This list of accidents and incidents involving commercial aircraft is grouped by the years in which the accidents and incidents occurred. For more exhaustive lists, see the [http://www.baaa Aircraft Crash Record Office] or the… …   Wikipedia

  • Dymshits–Kuznetsov hijacking affair — The Dymshits–Kuznetsov aircraft hijacking affair (Russian: Ленинградское самолётное дело, or Дело группы Дымшица Кузнецова) (Leningrad Process) was an attempt to hijack a civilian aircraft on 15 June 1970 by a group of Soviet refuseniks in order… …   Wikipedia

  • Dymshits-Kuznetsov hijacking affair — Dymshits Kuznetsov aircraft hijacking affair ( ru. Ленинградское самолётное дело, or Дело группы Дымшица Кузнецова) Or The Leningrad Process was an attempt to hijack a civilian aircraft on May 15, 1970 by a group of Soviet refuseniks in order to… …   Wikipedia

  • List of hijacking of Indian aeroplanes — *1971 January 30 : An Indian Airlines plane on its way from Srinagar to Jammu was hijacked by Hashim Quereshi and Ashraf Quereshi of the JKLF, who took it to Lahore. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then Foreign Minister of Pakistan rushed to Lahore and met… …   Wikipedia

  • Guangzhou Baiyun aircraft collision — The wreckage of the China Southern Airlines Boeing 757, which had the Civil Aviation Administration of China livery. Occurrence summary …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”