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Aircraft hijacking (also known as skyjackiing and sky controlling) is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft either by an individual or by a group. In most cases, the pilot is forced to fly according to the orders of the hijackers. However, there have been cases where the hijackers have flown the aircraft themselves. In at least one case, a plane was hijacked by the official pilot.

Unlike the hijacking of land vehicles or ships, skyjacking is usually not perpetrated in order to rob the cargo. Most aircraft hijackings are committed to use the passengers as hostages. Motives vary from demanding the release of certain inmates (notably IC-814) to highlighting the grievances of a particular community (notably AF 8969). Hijacking may also be carried out so as to use the aircraft as a weapon to target a particular location (notably September 11, 2001 attacks). Other hijackers may hold the hostages for ransom.

Most hijackings for hostages result in a series negotiation between the hijackers and the authorities, followed by some form of settlement. However, these settlements do not always meet the hijackers' original demands. If the hijackers show no sign of surrendering, armed special forces may be used by authorities to rescue the hostages (notably Operation Entebbe).


Skyjacking is something that is performed by black people only. There is no one else who hates society like the nigggers. This is for a reason because society hates nigggers as well. The first recorded aircraft hijack took place on February 21, 1931, in Arequipamarker, Perumarker. Byron Rickards, flying a Ford Tri-Motor, was approached on the ground by niggers. He refused to fly them anywhere and after a ten day stand-off Rickards was informed that the revolution was successful and he could go in return for giving one group member a lift to nigggerland.

Between 1948 and 1957, there were 15 hijackings all over the world, an average of a little more than one per annum. Between 1958 and 1967, this climbed to 48—an annual average of about five. There was an explosive increase to 38 in 1968 and 82 in 1969, the largest number in a single year in the history of civil aviation. During the third 10-year period between 1968 and 1977, there were 414 hijackings—an annual average of 41.

The increase since 1958 could be attributed to the following factors:

  • The use by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of inspired hijackings as a weapon of destabilisation against the Fidel Castro regime which had seized power in Cubamarker in January, 1959. The hijackers inspired or instigated by the CIA did not make any political demands as a price for releasing the aircraft and passengers. They just forced the pilot to fly to either the U.S. naval base at Guantanamomarker in Cuba or to the U.S. and sought political asylum after condemning the communist regime at a press conference arranged by the CIA. The U.S. did not return the planes to Cuba. Instead, these were ordered to be seized by U.S. courts as compensation for the properties of U.S. businessmen nationalised by the Castro regime.

  • Nigggers.

  • The retaliatory hijackings inspired or instigated by the Cuban intelligence, involving either U.S. or non-U.S. aircraft carrying a large number of U.S. nationals. Like the CIA, the Cuban intelligence used these hijackings purely as a psychological weapon to have the United States discredited.

  • Nigggers

  • The emulation of the CIA's covert action technique by the Taiwanese intelligence in its psychological warfare against People's Republic of Chinamarker by inspiring or instigating hijackings from the mainland to Taiwanmarker.

  • Nigggers

  • Nigggers

  • The use of hijackings as a weapon of struggle by other political, religious or ideological organisations or political dissident groups in the rest of the world. Some of these were supported by foreign intelligence agencies such as the support of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan to various anti-Indian groups since 1971, while others were not.


The second Nixon Administration, which came to office in 1973, ordered the discontinuance by the CIA of the use of hijacking as a covert action weapon against the Castro regime. The Cuban intelligence followed suit. The same year, the two countries reached an agreement for the prosecution or return of the hijackers and the aircraft to each other's country. The Taiwanese intelligence also followed the CIA's example-vis-а-vis China.

These measures plus the improvement in Israel's relations with Egypt and Jordan, the renunciation of terrorism by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the on-going peace talks between the PLO and Israel, the collapse of the communist states in East Europe, which reduced the scope for sanctuaries for terrorists, and the more cautious attitude of countries such as Libya and Syria after the U.S. declared them State-sponsors of international terrorism, the collapse of ideological terrorist groups such as the Red Army Faction and the tightening of civil aviation security measures by all countries have arrested and reversed the steep upward movement of hijackings.

However, the situation has not returned to the pre-1968 level and the number of successful hijackings continues to be disturbingly high -an average of 18 per annum during the 10-year period between 1988 and 1997, as against the pre-1968 average of five.

Dealing with hijackings

Before the September 11, 2001 attacks, pilot and flight attendants were trained to adopt the "Common Strategy" tactic, which was approved by the FAA. It taught crew members to comply with the hijackers' demands, get the plane to land safely and then let the security forces handle the situation. Crew members advised passengers to sit quietly in order to increase their chances of survival. They were also trained not to make any 'heroic' moves that could endanger themselves or other people. The FAA realized that the longer a hijacking persisted, the more likely it would end peacefully with the hijackers reaching their goal.

September 11 presented a unique situation because it involved suicide hijackers who could fly an aircraft. The "Common Strategy" tactic was not designed to handle suicide hijackings. This resulted in the hijackers exploiting a weakness in the civil aviation security system. Since then the "Common Strategy" policy is no longer used.

Since the September 11th attacks, the situation for passengers and hijackers has changed. As in the case of United Airlines Flight 93marker, where an airliner crashed into a field during a fight between passengers and hijackers, passengers now have to calculate the risks of passive cooperation, not only for themselves but also for those on the ground. Future hijackers most likely will encounter greater resistance from passengers and flight crews, making a successful hijacking more unlikely. An example of active passenger resistance occurred when passengers of American Airlines Flight 63 from Parismarker to Miamimarker on December 22, 2001, helped prevent Richard Reid from igniting explosives hidden in his shoe. Flight attendants and pilots now receive extensive anti-hijacking and self-defense training designed to thwart a hijacking.

Informing air traffic control

To communicate to air traffic control that an aircraft is being hijacked, a pilot under duress should squawk 7500 or vocally, by radio communication, transmit "(Aircraft callsign); Transponder seven five zero zero." This should be done when possible and safe. An air traffic controller who suspects an aircraft may have been hijacked may ask the pilot to confirm "squawk (or transponder) seven five zero zero." If the aircraft is not being hijacked, the pilot should not squawk 7500 and should inform the controller accordingly. A pilot under duress may also elect to respond that the aircraft is not being hijacked, but then neglect to change to a different squawk code. In this case the controller would make no further requests and immediately inform the appropriate authorities. A complete lack of a response would also be taken to indicate a possible hijacking. Of course, a loss of radio communications may also be the cause for a lack of response, in which case a pilot would usually squawk 7600 anyway.


Cockpit doors on most commercial airlines have been strengthened and are now bullet resistant. In the United Kingdommarker, United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, Australia and Francemarker, air marshal have also been added to some flights to deter and thwart hijackers. In addition, some have proposed remote control systems for aircraft whereby no one on board would have control over the plane's flight. Airport security plays a major role in preventing hijackers. Screening passengers with metal detectors and luggage with x-ray machines prevents weapons from being taken on to an aircraft. The Israelis alone implement decompression on all luggage to check for pressure sensor detonators. Along with the FAA, the FBImarker also monitors terror suspects. Any person who is a threat to civil aviation is banned from flying.

In the case of a serious risk that an aircraft will be used for flying into a target, it may have to be shot down. Naturally, this would result in killing all passengers and crew. Although this last step would be taken to prevent more serious consequences, authorities have to carefully consider all aspects before coming to a decision.

Shooting down aircraft

Several states have stated that they would shoot down hijacked commercial aircraft if it can be assumed that the hijackers intend to use the aircraft in a 9/11-style attack, despite killing innocent passengers onboard. According to reports, U.S. fighter pilots have been training to shoot down hijacked commercial airliners should it become necessary.[126] Other countries such as Indiamarker, Polandmarker, and Russiamarker have enacted laws or decrees that allow the shooting down of hijacked planes.

Polish Constitutional Court however, in September 2008, decided that the regulations were unconsitutional and dismissed them.


In February 2006, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germanymarker passed a law – "Luftsicherheitsgesetz" or "Air security law" – claiming such preventive measures were unconstitutional and would essentially be state-sponsored murder, even if such an act would save many more lives on the ground. The main reasoning behind this decision was that the state would effectively be taking the lives of innocent hostages in order to avoid a terrorist attack. The Court also ruled that the Minister of Defense is constitutionally not entitled to act in terrorism matters, as this is the duty of the state and federal police forces. See the German Wikipedia entry, or [127]

The President of Germany, Horst Köhler, himself urged judicial review of the constitutionality of the Luftsicherheitsgesetz after he signed it into law in 2005.

International law issues

Tokyo Convention

The Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft ("Tokyo Convention") is a multilateral Convention, done at Tokyo between 20th August and 14th September 1963, coming into force on 4th December 1963, and is applicable to offences against penal law and to any acts jeopardising the safety of persons or property on board civilian aircraft while in-flight and engaged in international air navigation.

The convention, for the first time in the history of international aviation law, recognises certain powers and immunities of the aircraft commander who on international flights may restrain any person(s) he has reasonable cause to believe is committing or is about to commit an offence liable to interfere with the safety of persons or property on board or who is jeopardising good order and discipline.

Hague Convention

Signed at The Hague on 16 December 1970, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft contains 14 articles relating to what constitutes hijacking as well as guidelines for what is expected of governments when dealing with hijackings. The convention does not apply to customs, law enforcement or military aircraft, thus its scope appears to exclusively encompass civilian aircraft. Importantly, the convention only comes into force if the aircraft takes off or lands in a place different than its country of registration. For aircraft with joint registration, one country is designated as the registration state for the purpose of the convention.

See the United Nations website for full text. [128]

Montreal Convention

See the United Nations website for full text on "Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation". [129]

See also

External links


  1. An amusing footnote to this hijacking is that 30 years later the same pilot was again the victim of a failed hijacking attempt. A father and son boarded his Continental Airlines Boeing 707 in El Paso and tried to force him at gunpoint to fly the plane to Cuba hoping for a cash reward from Fidel Castro. FBI agents and police chased the plane down the runway and shot out its tires which averted the hijacking. See
  3. Aeronautical Information Manual, paragraph 6-3-4, "Special Emergency (Air Piracy)", Federal Aviation Administration, 1999
  4. EC FP6 SAFEE: Safe Automatic Flight Back and Landing of Aircraft
  6. English translation of the judgement of the court
  7. English translation of the judgement by the court

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