After nearly three months of pushback from pilots, flight attendants and aircraft operators, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reversed its plan to allow small knives aboard airliners on June 5. TSA Administrator John Pistole’s March announcement that the agency would align U.S. standards with those in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Security Manual for Safeguarding Civil Aviation Against Acts of Unlawful Interference would have allowed passengers to bring on board folding knives with blades no more than 2.36 inches (6 cm) long–prohibited since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
When Pistole announced the planned relaxation, some experts, as well as cockpit and cabin crews, denounced it as irresponsible. In particular, opponents of the change were angered by the TSA’s insistence that airline cockpits are already well protected thanks to reinforced doors, a statement that implied passengers and cabin crews could be left to their own defense should the devices be used in a hijacking.
Outside the U.S., however, it appears the TSA did have some support for the proposed change. On a recent return trip to the U.S. from Geneva, Switzerland, senior AIN editor Matt Thurber demonstrated that despite U.S. outrage, some in Western Europe don’t appear to view small knives as a threat. Once through the Geneva Airport security net, Thurber sent a photo of a rack of knives he could have purchased legally just before boarding the flight back to the U.S. “Why bother creating our own laws when this kind of purchase is possible?” he asked.