No one believed for a moment that any hijacked airline pilot would fly a fuel-laden Boeing into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, even with a gun to his or her head. So it was assumed from the beginning that hijackers had to fly them, and the hijackers had to be trained pilots.
September 11 attacks
The chaos that erupted on the morning of September 11 brought a flood of questions. Where were these airplanes coming from? Who was flying them? Why were they crashing into skyscrapers? In short, what on earth was happening?
The tragedy of September 11, 2001, began with what is arguably the most far-reaching aviation event since the Enola Gay released its burden over Hiroshima. That moment, 56 years ago, defined the onset of a new era, an age overshadowed by the specter of global thermonuclear war, and life was never the same.
The May 1 deadline for the Allied Pilots Association to convince the other employee groups to accept pay cuts to allow the transfer of American Eagle’s 25 Bombardier CRJ700s to the mainline has passed without an agreement. As a result, Eagle will continue to fly the 70-seat jets and likely begin exercising options for the final 25 allowed under its scope clause.
As the National Airspace System (NAS) has reopened in phases, so have the Department of Transportation (DOT) and FAA clarified in increments the sequence of grounding actions made in the earliest minutes. FAA reports have narrowed but not eliminated the gap between its official timeline of decisions on September 11, versus third-party reports and observed actions directly from the field.
The image of mature “sleeper” hijack pilots living in Florida with their wives and children is a false one. What The New York Times described as “a remarkable set of circumstances” led the FBI, local investigators and news media to all but convict several men as hijackers, when in fact they are innocent, alive and well, in some cases having returned to their native countries before the attacks. The U.S.
“To be honest, I had a problem with Atta the first time I talked to him. I didn’t like his personality,” Rudy Dekkers, president and owner of Venice, Fla.-based Huffman Aviation International, said of suspected World Trade Center terrorist Mohamed Atta. “But what are you going to do? I’m going to deny someone flight training because I don’t personally like him?”
The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced expanded access to its Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The program has only been accessible to date to those businesses located in declared disaster areas, including the vicinities in and around New York City and Washington.
“The DOT would rather let an F-16 shoot down a hijacked airplane than let pilots carry guns in the cockpit,” was The Wall Street Journal’s response to Transportation Security Administration director John Magaw’s declaration “that I will not authorize firearms in the cockpit.” His decision overrides the wishes of airline pilots, who have been campaigning since September 11 to be allowed to carry guns as a barrier of last resort against terroris
The FAA has issued a final decision for redesigning the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia metropolitan airspace, but it is likely that airport neighbors will challenge the plan on the grounds that the new routings increase noise.