This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, January 7, 2004.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, there are at least three suspected terrorists who bought plane tickets to the United States but never showed up after the flights were originally canceled. Do pilots flying commercial airlines feel safe?
Joining us from Memphis, Tennessee, is veteran pilot Captain James Shilling of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association (search), and on the phone from England is retired British Airways Captain Eric Moody.
Captain Moody, let me first ask you what is the view -- what is the view of British pilots about whether the skies are safe traveling internationally from Britain to the United States?
CAPTAIN ERIC MOODY, RETIRED BRITISH AIRWAYS PILOT: Well, I think the British pilots are quite happy. But as long as there's no specific threat to a flight, then they will fly.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Moody, what about having sky marshals on board those flights that are armed?
MOODY: Well, most British pilots now -- I think even the pilots union -- accept that it's inevitable that we're going to go that way, but as long as sky marshals aren't used in answer to specific flights or specific threats. On a random basis, I'm sure they're going to accept them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Shilling, what -- what are you hearing from pilots about their sort of sense of security in the air these days?
CAPTAIN JAMES SHILLING, AVIATION CONSULTANT: Well, again, I -- we've talked about this in the past on other shows. The security here in the United States is -- as it's specific to aviation -- it's still good.
We spend a lot of time, a lot of resources making sure that we can do everything that we can possibly do with the resources available to protect the American public.
So, again, I've said -- is it safe to fly? Absolutely.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Shilling, where could we improve if we wanted to improve our security?
SHILLING: I think some of the reasons that we have to look at improving our security are going to be dealing with the cargo -- the cargo end of it.
We have to make sure that the freight airplanes are secure. We don't have sky marshals. We don't have a lot of things to protect the freight airplane from somebody possibly sneaking aboard and using it as a weapon.
Now we have to make sure that those airplanes are safe. They're big airplanes. They're full of gas. They have lots of cargo. So that's something that needs to be focused on.
We also need to make sure that we screen the cargo that gets aboard the airplanes -- passenger airplanes and freight airplanes -- to make sure that we know specifically what's aboard the airplanes.
We have to continue to make sure that we get armed pilots and more federal marshals aboard the aircraft as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Moody, is all the cargo that goes into the belly of commercial aircraft in Britain screened?
MOODY: Yes, it is all screened, certainly on the aircraft -- the cargo that's on passenger aircraft. Perhaps the cargo that goes on the cargo aircraft could be better screened.
But I don't quite agree with Captain Shilling in that there's no more that could be done. There's a lot more that could be done, even in America, as to passenger profiling, more high-tech techniques with photographing the iris of the eye, fingerprinting on all documents so that you make sure that the people who get on airplanes are who they say they are, and the British pilots would like to see much more security on the ground, even in America.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Moody, are the cockpit doors sufficiently reinforced and can a bullet go through one?
MOODY: We believe not. We believe a bullet can't go through them, and we believe they are sufficiently reinforced.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Shilling, do you agree that there are some people that are critical of the reinforced cockpit doors. Are they sufficient?
SHILLING: Yes, I think the cockpit doors are sufficient for a number of reasons. We have seen people try to get access to the cockpit, people that weren't specifically terrorists, but people that were maybe less than stable trying to get into the cockpit.
Clearly, it stopped them from getting access to the cockpit, and, if a terrorist shows up and tries to break in and if he has the technical means to get through the door, clearly, it will slow him down. Yes, I think it's a very good value.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Shilling, is all the cargo on passenger planes in the United States screened?
SHILLING: "Screened" is a word of art here, a term of art. The passenger is screened in what we call as the known shipper program, but what we advocate is actually cargo inspection. We have to know what's on the airplane.
There are -- in the near future...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it inspected? Is it -- I mean you can write on a bill of lading -- you can say that it's -- you know, that it's got canned goods, but is it actually inspected? Do you know for certain?
SHILLING: That's exactly the point. No, it's not largely inspected to the degree that we want it to be inspected. We want it X-rayed. We want it in some cases, if necessary, to be opened. And we need it all to be done, not just a little bit. We'd like it all to be done.
VAN SUSTEREN: Captain Moody, let me ask that more specific question of you. Is it actually inspected so you know exactly what's in every piece of cargo that goes on the passenger plane?
MOODY: I'm not going to be -- all I'm going to say to that question is that we are happy that procedures are in place that when cargo goes on to an aircraft, we know what it is and we know that it is safe.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I'll take that a little bit as a dodge but appreciate at least the effort to answer it.
Captain Moody, thank you very much.
Captain Shilling, thank you as well.
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