Friday, April 09, 2010

Copping a Smoke Undetected on Flight 663?

That's a pretty good folo in the Times today on the Arab diplomat who made alarm bells ring loud after he ducked into the lavatory to cop a smoke on United Flight 663 from Washington to Denver on Wednesday night.

This, by the way, is a federal crime right off the bat. Then, when confronted at his seat by an air marshal, he shot off his fool mouth about maybe lighting up a bomb in his shoe. Heh-heh.

Everyone agrees, what a moron. What a shame this nitwit has diplomatic immunity, because a couple of months in jail would give him occasion for contemplation about the realities of aviation terrorism.

And everyone with any sense also agrees with Kip Hawley, the former TSA chief, that the security response to this incident was exactly as it should have been. By all indications, there was a bomb threat on that airplane.

(By the way, those fighter jets that were scrambled to "accompany" the flight after the incident was reported had a secondary mission, after escort. If things happened to go very, very wrong on board, they were up there to shoot that plane down if so ordered.)

But I'm still wondering. According to the accounts, the fact that this guy had been smoking his pipe in the lavatory was determined only after a flight attendant, followed by another passenger, used the lav and reported that it smelled of tobacco smoke.

What about those lavatory smoke detectors that the airlines always warn you not to be "disabling or tampering with"?

Did the lavatory smoke detector on that airplane not work? If not, shouldn't this be an issue for the FAA to follow up on?

Do airplane smoke detectors work? In some states, you can't even sell a house till the local fire department comes to certify that all of your $12 home smoke detectors are working.

You shouldn't be able to fly an airplane full of people without the same level of assurance.

[UPDATE: The "comments" link below shows 0 comments, but it's wrong. Click it for a useful comment from a reader who clearly knows what he or she is talking about, saying the smoke detectors are for dense smoke and/or fire, not casual tobacco smoke. Noted.]



Brajit said...

Smoke detectors are not there to catch moronic people in times of desperation trying to get a hit off their cancer stick, but for times of serious FIRE. Dense smoke is what they are used for, not cigarette/pipe smoke.

Now, if Mr. Diplomatic Immunity would have thrown a match into the trash can and lit the paper towels on fire, the smoke detector would have possibly been set off. Trash cans on today's airplanes have a halon extinguisher, and if the internal temperature of the trash chute hits 180F, the wax seal automatically trips, sending a stream of halon into the compartment. This would still sound an alarm in the flight deck, but as a different warning.

Don't assume that the smoke detector didn't function properly. Worry about why this moron was living under a rock for the past 20 years since smoking has been banned, as well as the numerous numbers of "NO SMOKING" signs on the outside and inside of the lav.

Send him back or shoot him.

Jeanne said...

It's funny that when the safety video warns you not to disable or tamper with the smoke detector, the camera zooms in on the smoke detector. (At least in Delta's video.) If you don't want people to touch it, why show them what it looks like?

. said...

The airlines should take the opportunity to make some extra cash and sell nicotine gum and patches along with the snack boxes :p