MANPADS Protection–is it time?

Many of you, dear students, won’t know what MANPADS is, and that is quite understandable. It is defined as a “Man-portable Air Defense System.” That obviously includes such systems as Stinger missiles. Interestingly, we as a nation are now more concerned about them as an attack rather than a defense, system. Misnomer aside, this article “ATA Position: Counter MANPADS Deployment” outlines the case from the position of the Air Transport Association.

“Among the terrorist threats we are confronting, the risk of a MANPADS attack on a commercial airliner is an extremely serious concern. So too, however, are threats from other types of weapons and tactics that might be utilized by those intent on harming our nation by attacking our aviation system. Therefore, it is critically important in confronting all of these threats that we be guided by the best intelligence and law enforcement information available. With this information, we can apply a systematic risk management program to determine how to best marshal available resources.”

The article outlines the case for MANPADS protection, but also lists a series of questions that must be addressed before any real action can be taken to protect civil travel from such threats. The questions are listed at the end of the article, and I encourage all of you to go read them. They are thoughtful and I believe useful in helping to frame a realistic debate on the benefits, approaches, and effectiveness of MANPADS defense. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the threats to our commercial air system. How much do you think we should spend on systems like these? Are you willing to pay more for your airline ticket for this level of safety? And what is your answer to the liability question?