It has been nearly 7 years since 9/11 and the government is still pulling ideas out of its ass to help keep us safe. Wired reports that in a request for proposals issued this week, the Pentagon announced that they are looking for ways to “safely divert an aircraft in the air or stop and/or disable an aircraft on the ground,” i.e., a kill switch. More, inside…
The kill switch guidelines:
The primary focus of the “divert an aircraft” task is to control the airspace and enforce no-fly or restricted flight zones. Effects should be focused on the aircraft, not the pilot or other personnel on board. The capability should enable the enforcement of flight restriction zones (e.g., metropolitan Washington, D.C.), protection of critical infrastructure and other high value assets from a possible aerial threat.
For aircraft on the ground, “stop” requires the aircraft to come to 0 mph at some point between when it starts to taxi and when it reaches abort speed. The requirement to “disable” includes actions to render inoperable, deny use, and/or deny access to an aircraft on the ground. Successful accomplishment of either objective results in keeping the targeted aircraft from becoming airborne.
So far, nobody is quite sure how to design and implement such a device. Additionally, the government would like to see this magical device on boats too. They wish to have a device that could, from 100 meters, “safely stop or significantly impede the movement” of vessels up to 40 feet long, with “minimal collateral damage.”
Even if such a device could be properly engineered and implemented, would you be at ease with flying on an airplane that had a government-controlled kill switch which could suddenly take control the aircraft at a moment’s notice? Instead of preventing harm, it seems to us, that such a device would only create another avenue for terrorists who could exploit such a device to their advantage. Furthermore, it seems reasonable to believe, like any piece of technology, that this device could malfunction and potentially activate itself. Do you think a kill switch on airplanes is a good idea? How would you go about inventing such a thing?