A descriptive study of aircraft hijacking



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Aerial hijacking is a relatively new peril for the American airline industry and the millions of passengers who depart each year from American airports. Only a little over a decade has passed since the first skyjacking of an American airplane on May 1, 1961. Yet, the snowballing effect of this initial incident has been swift and dramatic, as one airplane after another is diverted to an unscheduled destination. In 1961 there was a total of five skyjackings of United States registered aircraft, which were followed by only one in 1962 and none in 1963. In 1968 activity increased with 22 aircraft being seized followed by 40 in 1969, this is the largest yearly total to date. In 1970 and 1971 there were 27 per year. So far this year, as of 1 March, 1972, we have had 6 skyjackings. This gives us a total of 134 skyjackings since 1961. The purpose of this paper was to prepare a descriptive study of all aspects of the phenomenon of skyjacking. This study includes the latest statistics on skyjacking, i.e., number of skyjackings, type of weapons, type of aircrafts, skyjackers identification and disposition or status. This paper also discusses the legal aspects, both national and international, related to this crime. The personality and emotional nature of the skyjacker is also examined. In addition, the preventive measures instituted by the government and the airline industry are discussed. Included in this discussion are the sky marshal program, the pre-board screening process and the use of electronic detection equipment. A review of the literature was the major procedure used to gather background information, especially concerning the legal aspects of this problem. The current statistics were obtained both through written correspondence and personal interviews with Federal Aviation Authority officials. Aviation journals such as Aviation Week and Space Technology were reviewed in an attempt to ascertain the technical problems that skyjacking presents for the airlines. Court proceedings were examined to determine the legality of airport searches. Government documents, Department of State Bulletins and reports to Congress concerning skyjacking were reviewed and analyzed.



Hijacking of aircraft, skyjacking, preventive measures, personality, emotional nature