115

Military aircraft rarely have any sort of keys or any sort of authentication systems, they rely on physical security measures to prevent people from getting to the airplanes in the first place, like fences, dogs, cameras, guards, and of course guns. If there were no physical barriers then you have 3 major barriers to being able to steal a fighter jet: ...


112

This is a reasonable question, and to an outside the simple answer of We don't / can't might seem a little bit jarring. After-all, we live in a time of hacking, terrorism and so on and I can certainly see how this looks like a simple vector to create some havoc. So, what's to stop somebody from setting themselves up with a Radio Transmitter and deciding to ...


108

I happen to have personal knowledge of this particular case. I was in that airplane, too, seated two rows away from him. I'm also a former pilot and was naturally very interested in what happened, so I asked him some questions during the flight back. He had worked as service mechanic for this company before, servicing their planes in Iceland. Their ...


76

I was a pilot attached to Attack Squadron 86 flying A7-E's during the mid-1980's and here is a case where one of our jets was nearly stolen. It is not what you might guess, and as GdD pointed out above, maintenance support nabbed the pilot. To this day I am amazed at the guy's audacity. Don't know what happened to him after this encounter. I was the Officer ...


57

As an aircraft mechanic at a major airline, I think I can answer this pretty well. It wouldn’t be hard at all. All I have to do is wait for an aircraft move. This could be to bring a plane into the hangar or just to move it from one gate to another. I could simply volunteer to taxi the aircraft, which wouldn’t be unusual at all. At my airport, we have to ...


54

There's a real-life example that seems very similar: Aeroflot 593. The pilots let two children sit in the cockpit while the aircraft was on autopilot. One of the children pushed the control column for 30 seconds, which disengaged the autopilot and started a steep turn. The pilots tried to recover but the aircraft stalled and crashed, killing everyone on ...


41

I haven't spoken to any terrorists, so the only source I have for this is Bruce Schneier, but apparently, they're hard to pull off. Objectively, this makes sense; if they were easy, there would be more of them. For the sake of not referencing any actual living or dead person, let's call our supposed terrorist "Hans Gruber". Hans has enough money to charter ...


39

Yes! You can charter large aircraft like the 747. A lot of airlines offer this service for large groups (sports teams come to mind), and there are also operators of the Boeing Business Jet that were created just for private and charter uses. The TSA requires aircraft like this to adopt a security program called the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program (...


38

Visual detection To take one example, a vehicle-launched ground to air missile system (e.g. the SA-11) that can reach the cruising altitude of airliners travels at several thousand miles per hour and takes perhaps 30 to 40 seconds from launch to reach its target. Pilots don't have an especially good view of the ground immediately below and would have a ...


38

There are a several theft-deterrent mechanisms in place. On small airplanes, most commonly, the door to the airplane itself is usually locked with a key. (Notice the key cylinder in this picture below the silver door handle: Prop locks: Throttle locks: A lot of airplanes do have an ignition key which you turn to engage the starter. Of course, as jaytre ...


37

Small planes tend to have keys, but not all. The bigger the plane the less likely a key is needed and once you get into jets, I can't think of any that need keys for engine starts. The starting and securing of engines with no keys comes down to switches and knobs. Likewise with exterior doors, on smaller planes including private end executive jets, you ...


34

The difficulty of first hiding and then legalizing the aircraft. So the thief got into the plane. But what's he going to do with it? A car can be repainted in any remote garage and nobody will notice and registration is just a piece of paper relatively easy to fake. But aircraft can't be landed just anywhere. So police has manageable list of places to check ...


30

Presumably, they use an off-line transaction. The reason your credit card has raised numbers is that, in the old days, before ubiquitous data connections, a card transactions used a machine like this to transfer an imprint of your card details onto a form, using carbon paper. You would then sign the form and the merchant would send it off to the bank to get ...


29

I'm going to explain this for the Airbus (also known as the Cockpit Door Locking System or CDLS): How exactly does the person on the inside "cancel the unlock process" (Press a button, flip a switch, enter "counter code", etc...) If the code is entered for an emergency external opening, the pilot has 30 seconds after the request period to ...


28

As of currently, the answer to this question is in principle no for commercial aircraft, at least not remotely. There are two parts to this: From a system perspective: Aircraft systems could probably be 'hacked'- assuming you could for instance screw up the flight computer by changing the chips in the belly- but there is no way you could really pull this ...


28

Here in the US (you didn't specify where, and this is different in other countries), traveling domestically in your own private aircraft is much like traveling in your own private car. Except in very specific situations, you are not generally required to go through security, and at many, many smaller general aviation airports airport security is almost non-...


27

Generally, airlines are required to have content in their ops manual clearly stating who is entitled to flight deck access from the point the engines are started until shutdown. In some countries, such as the UK, airlines are required to limit access only to essential personnel, and foreign airlines must follow the rule while in UK airspace. I would find it ...


26

The exact number of air marshals is not public information, and they certainly don't disclose what flights they fly on or other operational details. However, the number has been reported to be on the order of ~3,000-4,000 and reports indicate the number has decreased somewhat since then. All of them are, of course, not on duty 24/7/365. There are around 87,...


25

Random? Probably not. Deliberate? It's hard to say, but the pilots will certainly have a hard time landing. There are many switches in a cockpit, and some are more important than others. If you don't know what you're touching, chances are you're manipulating a control that is not so important, for example the brightness of the LCD display panel, or the ...


25

There are no physical restraints to entering the runway when the road is open. You can see from this video of the crossing that Gibraltar police and the base for the Royal Air Force are present. The runway is owned by the Ministry of Defence. Anyone attempting to drive on the runway will probably be intercepted in seconds, although I am not aware of any ...


24

The airline Primera Air is a Danish business that was originally based in Iceland. They have a fleet of 8 Boeing 737s. The passenger Davíð Aron Guðnason is an Icelandic air mechanic. He is reported as saying: “I spoke to the captain on board and he put me through to the airline’s head mechanic who’s based in Stockholm, Sweden. He told me that there was a ...


24

It will either go through the airline's existing air-to-ground system (like the seat-back phones you pay $5/min for) or they've got a store-and-process-later arrangement with the card companies. (Just because you can't use a phone doesn't mean the airline can't, they just follow certain conditions better)


23

What is it called? Buying stuff on an airplane during flight is know is in-flight commerce (IFC). How it works? Credit cards are swiped via wireless handhelds on aircraft but the transactions are processed when the aircraft gets on the ground. Limitations Because of this billing mechanism – which sometimes results in fraudulent transactions – there is a ...


22

Some pilots are armed, like casey says. Most, however, are not. And they have very little reason to: After 9/11, a lot stricter security measures have been made on all airplanes to limit the access non-essential staff has to the cockpit. This includes measures like a reinforced locked door between the cabin and cockpit. Because of the improved measures, ...


22

Searching the NTSB Accident Database which also covers some international commercial flights for the key words "hack", "hacked" do not provide any results related to hacked avionics. Likewise using the keyword "tampered" does not provide any results related to deliberate tampering with avionics (mostly "tampered" wreckage). There is one individual, Chris ...


22

Can a fighter jet be stolen? Absolutely, no key required. There was the case of a lance corporal who took a USMC A-4 Skyhawk for a joyride in 1986. See: Marine Mechanic Stole An A-4M-Skyhawk. 21-year-old Lance Corporal Howard A. Foote Jr. went for a joyride after learning he can no longer pursue a flying career in the military. He was only experienced in ...


20

As a private pilot, single-engine land, I've flown maybe fifty different light planes--none with any more than four seats or 210HP--and all of them have had ignition keys. I haven't been in the cockpit of anything bigger. Generally the keys have five positions: OFF, MAG 1, MAG 2, BOTH, and START. You insert the key at the OFF position, turn it all the way ...


20

Private airports have very little security and light aircraft flying within a country typically aren't required to file a flightplan and aren't required to have transponders for secondary radar. You can get in a private aircraft and fly off pretty much as easily as you can get in a car and drive off. Private aircraft crossing international borders are ...


19

Surface-to-air missile attacks on airliners at cruising altitude are vanishingly rare: there have only been three known attacks in the past half-century (MH-17, IR-655, and probably S7-1812). Any protection system needs to take that into account -- any safety system needs to be justified in terms of cost, weight, and safety -- it needs to save more lives ...


19

Is there a NOTAM or a temporary flight restriction associated with laser ranging activity? Apparently yes: The lasers on the telescopes are in the range of 15-40 watts. The FAA calls a no-fly zone over the area when a laser is in use, and two people have to stand around outside in the freezing temperatures and watch for airplanes. Each of them has a kill ...


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