Vladex
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What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:34 pm

I understand that they were training only on boeing and only had their manuals but what if they got substituted with say A321 or A330? Would they still know how to crash them or would they abort their plans so to speak?
 
SpaceshipDC10
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:51 pm

I guess you answered your own question. Back then i don't think UA would have substituted an A320 for either of the two flights that were hijacked, because that's the closest it would have been to your scenario. No A321s nor A330s for either airlines.
 
hisham
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:56 pm

Creepy question but nothing hinders an airplane geek.
 
F9Animal
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:57 pm

I don't think it would have made a difference. These guys were going to do what they did one way or another. Aircraft type wouldn't have prevented it.
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EvanWSFO
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:59 pm

They would have chosen other airlines. US had Airbus 320/321 and either 762 or 332 (don't recall) NW had Airbus, as did UA.. Not sure the outcome would have been any different.. My brother was a captain for US on the A320 family, and actually in the air that morning. I asked him this question once, he said a full fuel load would likely have caused the same explosions.
Last edited by EvanWSFO on Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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gunsontheroof
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:00 pm

Not possible on AA, pretty sure UA wasn't running A320s on transcons back in 2001.
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BHXLOVER
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:07 pm

I presume the question is also would they have been able to adapt to the side stick controls?
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:14 pm

F9Animal wrote:
I don't think it would have made a difference. These guys were going to do what they did one way or another. Aircraft type wouldn't have prevented it.

I'm just taking a wild guess here, but perhaps the OP is asking if the hijackers suddenly found themselves in a cockpit with sidesticks instead of good old yokes, would they have been able to control the a/c enough to steer towards the WTC?

Remember, this was 16 years ago when sidesticks would have been something of a novelty for many. Undoubtedly the hijackers could have still crashed the aircraft itself, but they had a bigger prize in mind.

Likewise, the poster who responded that UA or AA would never have substituted A320s on transcons, is factually correct, but missing the essence of the question. Unless I've got it wrong....
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EvanWSFO
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:20 pm

That operation was very meticulously planned. I'm sure it took years. IMO, the hijackers would have noticed if they were getting on an Airbus rather than Boeing that they trained for.
 
Kindanew
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:34 pm

As I understand it it takes a few minutes to get used to an airbus sidestick and just like a yoke if if point it to the left the plane banks to the left and if you point it to the right the plane banks to the right.

I would guess the outcome would have been the same. Flight envelope protection doesn’t prevent you from flying into a building.
Last edited by Kindanew on Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:47 pm

They purposely trained on the 75/76.

That was the predominate transcon plane at the time
 
MartijnNL
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:56 pm

gunsontheroof wrote:
Not possible on AA, pretty sure UA wasn't running A320s on transcons back in 2001.

They were in June 2002. A United Airlines A320 took me from San Francisco to Washington then.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:03 pm

EvanWSFO wrote:
That operation was very meticulously planned. I'm sure it took years. IMO, the hijackers would have noticed if they were getting on an Airbus rather than Boeing that they trained for.


Of course they would have noticed, but what would they have done once they found out? They've trained for one type of aircraft and suddently find themselves in another type. The differences between them are significant, they work completely different. It's more than just the sidestick, the way the autopilot is controlled is also very different.

Now if you had been that terrorist, what would you have done? Would you let the opportunity slip, knowing the next flight for which you got a ticket will most likely be canceled because then the other planes will already have crashed and by then the "clear the skies" command will have been given? Or will you go ahead with it anyway, placing yourself in the cockpit of an aircraft you can't fly?
 
catiii
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:03 pm

From the 9/11 Commission report, page 245:

"Atta told Binalshibh he wanted to select planes departing on long flights because they would be full of fuel, and that he wanted to hijack Boeing aircraft because he believed them easier to fly than Airbus aircraft, which he understood had an autopilot feature that did not allow them to be crashed into the ground."
 
SpaceshipDC10
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:13 pm

MartijnNL wrote:
gunsontheroof wrote:
Not possible on AA, pretty sure UA wasn't running A320s on transcons back in 2001.

They were in June 2002. A United Airlines A320 took me from San Francisco to Washington then.


Probably due to the shift from larger aircraft to smaller ones with more frequencies as well as lower number of passengers following 9/11.
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:18 pm

MartijnNL wrote:
gunsontheroof wrote:
Not possible on AA, pretty sure UA wasn't running A320s on transcons back in 2001.

They were in June 2002. A United Airlines A320 took me from San Francisco to Washington then.


The A300's don't have a similar type rating to the A320's. A330's were mostly used to fly to Europe by a few airlines, but those flights are mostly in the late afternoon.

The hijackers were looking for the planes with the most fuel capacity available in the early morning flying from the east coast on transcon flights. In 2001 no airlines in the US flew A321's on transcon flights, because the didn't have the range. The hijackers wanted to crash planes with as much fuel as possible. Being newer designs, the A320 series was more fuel efficient than the 757, but it didn't quite have range for reliable year round transcon operations. The 757's engines higher specific fuel consumption meant they had to carry more fuel which made them better for the terrorists' intended use.

The 767's carried more fuel than the narrow bodies available, so they were used to crash into the World Trade Center towers. The 757's had the same type rating as the 767 and were to be used for for smaller targets.
 
Austin787
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:29 pm

There was definitely an attack USA mission in the 9/11 hijackings. I suspect the attackers targeted flights scheduled with Boeing aircraft because Boeing is USA-based. With the flights they chose, UA could have substituted A320 and AA could have substituted A300.

catiii wrote:
From the 9/11 Commission report, page 245:

"Atta told Binalshibh he wanted to select planes departing on long flights because they would be full of fuel, and that he wanted to hijack Boeing aircraft because he believed them easier to fly than Airbus aircraft,which he understood had an autopilot feature that did not allow them to be crashed into the ground."

Didn't prevent that Germanwings pilot from crashing an A320
 
OneX123
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:39 pm

Austin787 wrote:
There was definitely an attack USA mission in the 9/11 hijackings. I suspect the attackers targeted flights scheduled with Boeing aircraft because Boeing is USA-based. With the flights they chose, UA could have substituted A320 and AA could have substituted A300.

catiii wrote:
From the 9/11 Commission report, page 245:

"Atta told Binalshibh he wanted to select planes departing on long flights because they would be full of fuel, and that he wanted to hijack Boeing aircraft because he believed them easier to fly than Airbus aircraft,which he understood had an autopilot feature that did not allow them to be crashed into the ground."

Didn't prevent that Germanwings pilot from crashing an A320



Not sure how you come to the conclusion that it's because Boeing is USA built when the direct quote from Atta says that it was because Boeing was believed to be an easier aircraft to fly vs. an Airbus.
 
FGITD
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:40 pm

It's an interesting question, but like pretty much every aviation incident or accident, it follows the Swiss cheese hole logic. Every little thing had to line up just right for it to happen the way it did.

For all we know, the hijackers could have had contingency plans. If anything isn't right prior to departure, they call it off.

It's really only once the first group/plane was airborne that everything had to be a go.

I would think that if one group had arrived and saw an unfamiliar aircraft outside, they would have called it off. They planned for years, and weren't going to let the whole thing go because AA subbed in an a300.

I think the biggest potential hurdle they faced was something happening to the rest after the first aircraft was airborne. A delay, a ground hold, anything. But once they were airborne, fate was sealed
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:47 pm

Vladex wrote:
I understand that they were training only on boeing and only had their manuals but what if they got substituted with say A321 or A330? Would they still know how to crash them or would they abort their plans so to speak?


They wouldn't have been able to go as fast as they did without the airplane intervening, and I think some of their turns (like around DC) were quite steep, which the airplane would have resisted. Unless they pushed some buttons and pulled some breakers, in which case they could have done whatever. But they'd still have crashed.
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:49 pm

would not have made any difference at Amarican as they flew A300-600R which did not have side stick controllers. UA they may have gotten an A320, but the wide bodies would have been Boeings.
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:52 pm

Austin787 wrote:
There was definitely an attack USA mission in the 9/11 hijackings. I suspect the attackers targeted flights scheduled with Boeing aircraft because Boeing is USA-based. With the flights they chose, UA could have substituted A320 and AA could have substituted A300.

catiii wrote:
From the 9/11 Commission report, page 245:

"Atta told Binalshibh he wanted to select planes departing on long flights because they would be full of fuel, and that he wanted to hijack Boeing aircraft because he believed them easier to fly than Airbus aircraft,which he understood had an autopilot feature that did not allow them to be crashed into the ground."

Didn't prevent that Germanwings pilot from crashing an A320


And the A300 had standard yokes, not side sticks. So they would have been able to fly it.
 
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PHBVF
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:56 pm

catiii wrote:
From the 9/11 Commission report, page 245:

"Atta told Binalshibh he wanted to select planes departing on long flights because they would be full of fuel, and that he wanted to hijack Boeing aircraft because he believed them easier to fly than Airbus aircraft, which he understood had an autopilot feature that did not allow them to be crashed into the ground."


If this is true than that answers the question doesn't it? If they are at the gate and see an Airbus in stead of a Boeing, they would realize this and believe they wouldn't be able to crash it.
With that thought being the case I would think they would not push through...
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alberchico
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:59 pm

FGITD wrote:
It's an interesting question, but like pretty much every aviation incident or accident, it follows the Swiss cheese hole logic. Every little thing had to line up just right for it to happen the way it did.

For all we know, the hijackers could have had contingency plans. If anything isn't right prior to departure, they call it off.

It's really only once the first group/plane was airborne that everything had to be a go.

I would think that if one group had arrived and saw an unfamiliar aircraft outside, they would have called it off. They planned for years, and weren't going to let the whole thing go because AA subbed in an a300.

I think the biggest potential hurdle they faced was something happening to the rest after the first aircraft was airborne. A delay, a ground hold, anything. But once they were airborne, fate was sealed


I believe that according the the 9/11 commission report, just before boarding or before takeoff on the airplanes they made one last phone call to confirm the plan was on. These guys were not stupid. They had contingency plans.
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EvanWSFO
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:24 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
EvanWSFO wrote:
That operation was very meticulously planned. I'm sure it took years. IMO, the hijackers would have noticed if they were getting on an Airbus rather than Boeing that they trained for.


Of course they would have noticed, but what would they have done once they found out? They've trained for one type of aircraft and suddently find themselves in another type. The differences between them are significant, they work completely different. It's more than just the sidestick, the way the autopilot is controlled is also very different.

Now if you had been that terrorist, what would you have done? Would you let the opportunity slip, knowing the next flight for which you got a ticket will most likely be canceled because then the other planes will already have crashed and by then the "clear the skies" command will have been given? Or will you go ahead with it anyway, placing yourself in the cockpit of an aircraft you can't fly?


I cannot put myself into the mind of a terrorist. They had to have tickets to get on the flight, correct? I know reservation systems back then weren't as we know them today. Anyone could do a little homework to find out where the Boeings were departing from. If I was in that situation, I wouldn't have gotten on the plane. I would have assumed the other attacks would go off as scheduled because AA would be less likely to sub an A300 for a 762 doing flights to LAX, and they had tradition "steering wheels". It's all speculation that we'll never know the answers to.
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:35 pm

MartijnNL wrote:
gunsontheroof wrote:
Not possible on AA, pretty sure UA wasn't running A320s on transcons back in 2001.

They were in June 2002. A United Airlines A320 took me from San Francisco to Washington then.


The A300's don't have a similar type rating to the A320's. A330's were mostly used to fly to Europe by a few airlines, but those flights are mostly in the late afternoon.

The hijackers were looking for the planes with the most fuel capacity available in the early morning flying from the east coast on transcon flights. In 2001 no airlines in the US flew A321's on transcon flights, because the didn't have the range. The hijackers wanted to crash planes with as much fuel as possible. Being newer designs, the A320 series was more fuel efficient than the 757, but it didn't quite have range for reliable year round transcon operations. The 757's engines higher specific fuel consumption meant they had to carry more fuel which made them better for the terrorists' intended use.

The 767's carried more fuel than the narrow bodies available, so they were used to crash into the World Trade Center towers. The 757's had the same type rating as the 767 and were to be used for for smaller targets.
 
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OA940
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:09 pm

Probably not that much. Plus no US airline had either A321 or A330 aircraft at the time. This is getting into creepy/CIA tagging you territory, but honestly if you're planning anything of that scale you're gonna plan for alternatives. At the time the alternatives were just more 757's and 767's. Thank God they were all relatively unfilled.
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aircatalonia
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:33 pm

It may as well have happened. Some plane was obviously meant to hit building 7 and it never did. Maybe there was a substitution/delay/whatever.
 
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JannEejit
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:36 pm

SheikhDjibouti wrote:
F9Animal wrote:
I don't think it would have made a difference. These guys were going to do what they did one way or another. Aircraft type wouldn't have prevented it.

I'm just taking a wild guess here, but perhaps the OP is asking if the hijackers suddenly found themselves in a cockpit with sidesticks instead of good old yokes, would they have been able to control the a/c enough to steer towards the WTC?

Remember, this was 16 years ago when sidesticks would have been something of a novelty for many. Undoubtedly the hijackers could have still crashed the aircraft itself, but they had a bigger prize in mind.

Likewise, the poster who responded that UA or AA would never have substituted A320s on transcons, is factually correct, but missing the essence of the question. Unless I've got it wrong....


That's how I understood the OP's question too, and to put it another way... If the old airport movie disaster scenario of 'both pilots had the chicken' occurred and the call went out 'Is there a pilot on board ?' and said available pilot was not Airbus or vice versa Boeing certified, could he land the plane or not ?

Ultimately what we're at here is whether or not a Boeing certified pilot could handle an Airbus already in flight or not ? A 757 pilot friend of mine was offered a job with Virgin Atlantic years ago on either fleet and chose to re-certify on Airbus, believing that to be the way VS was going at the time, circa 2004. I know he spent a hell of a long time retraining, studying and poring over manuals before he got there. Likewise, I was filming a kids show for BBC a couple of years ago, which involved a pair of young kids getting to live their ambition of becoming pilots for a few days. Part of the shoot was to let them loose in a flight sim at Woodford. They got to shadow a female FO who at the time was 757 crew. Unfortunately the flight school screwed up their bookings and only had an A320 sim available for filming. The A320 trainer had to take part instead.
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:05 pm

Well if they all got on Airbus planes, the stick would’ve saved them. We all know that.

And there wouldn’t have been a 9/11.

And no Afghanistan War.

And no Iraq War.

And we’d all be making $1 million.

And the U.S. would be part of the European Union.

What a truly banal question. (It’s also insulting but I don’t play that card.)
 
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CitizenJustin
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:30 pm

This probably sounds a bit twisted, but I’ve always wondered what it would have looked like if a they hijaked a 747 to hit the towers. Would they have collapsed immediately, or same scenario?
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:49 pm

CitizenJustin wrote:
This probably sounds a bit twisted, but I’ve always wondered what it would have looked like if a they hijaked a 747 to hit the towers. Would they have collapsed immediately, or same scenario?


Not YOU, CJ!!!! DF, freakysh, Nikky V . . . I could take any one of them posting that . . . but not you, CJ!!!

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seahawk
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:29 pm

It is not like there never was a pilot rated to fly Airbus and Boeings. And they never wanted to do a manual landing in direct law in maximum cross wind conditions and low visibility and not crash.
 
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:53 pm

jetero wrote:
CitizenJustin wrote:
This probably sounds a bit twisted, but I’ve always wondered what it would have looked like if a they hijaked a 747 to hit the towers. Would they have collapsed immediately, or same scenario?


Not YOU, CJ!!!! DF, freakysh, Nikky V . . . I could take any one of them posting that . . . but not you, CJ!!!

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Lol, sorry jetero! I hope I’m not tarnished with you forever!
 
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william
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:53 pm

Vladex wrote:
I understand that they were training only on boeing and only had their manuals but what if they got substituted with say A321 or A330? Would they still know how to crash them or would they abort their plans so to speak?


Do you mean the safety protections built into the Airbus FBW would have prevented the crashes? The suicide A320 pilot of the German airline proved that wrong. The safety protections might have kicked in in the Pentagon crash though.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:30 pm

seahawk wrote:
It is not like there never was a pilot rated to fly Airbus and Boeings. And they never wanted to do a manual landing in direct law in maximum cross wind conditions and low visibility and not crash.

A proper pilot - yes, they might cope with something new & different. Someone who has aviation in his veins and a broad knowledge of all things aeronautical. I'm sure most pilots could adapt fairly quickly to flying a plane with a sidestick, or a glider, an ultralight, almost anything except a helicopter - that does require a radically different skill-set (IMHO)

But these guys were terrorists, not aviation nutters or qualified pilots. They had rather hurriedly learned a very specific skill-set that was just enough to steer three (Boeing) aircraft to their target. Even then, AA77 nearly crashed short of the Pentagon, impacting street lights on it's way in. Just looking at an Airbus sidestick suggests to me that smaller more delicate movements are required, using one hand, not two.

This might have resulted in either or both of the WTC flights failing to hit the tower square on, and maybe just clipping it with a wing tip. This would have resulted in the loss of each aircraft (and all on board), but only superficial damage to the Twin Towers.

Of course that then brings in the probability of the two aircraft & associated fireballs ending up killing thousands on the streets of Lower Manhattan.
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seahawk
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:51 am

On the other hand practising side stick control is easier with casual flight simulators, as most available flightsticks at the time were designed like sidesticks. So if they would have considered the option of ending up on an Airbus, they probably would have trained for that option as well.
 
MartijnNL
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:58 pm

aircatalonia wrote:
It may as well have happened. Some plane was obviously meant to hit building 7 and it never did. Maybe there was a substitution/delay/whatever.

This can't be true. Why go for a completely unknown building? Don't you think the Empire State Building for example would have been a 'better' target?

Terrible all those conspiracy theories afterwards. The reality was bad enough.
 
StarAC17
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:51 pm

FGITD wrote:
It's an interesting question, but like pretty much every aviation incident or accident, it follows the Swiss cheese hole logic. Every little thing had to line up just right for it to happen the way it did.

For all we know, the hijackers could have had contingency plans. If anything isn't right prior to departure, they call it off.

It's really only once the first group/plane was airborne that everything had to be a go.

I would think that if one group had arrived and saw an unfamiliar aircraft outside, they would have called it off. They planned for years, and weren't going to let the whole thing go because AA subbed in an a300.

I think the biggest potential hurdle they faced was something happening to the rest after the first aircraft was airborne. A delay, a ground hold, anything. But once they were airborne, fate was sealed


They did several dry runs and many celebrities the main one being James Woods were on those flights and noticed the suspicious behavior of some individuals on flights leading up to 9/11. They probably could call this off easily for many reasons, a swap, horrible weather, delays etc.

william wrote:
Vladex wrote:
I understand that they were training only on boeing and only had their manuals but what if they got substituted with say A321 or A330? Would they still know how to crash them or would they abort their plans so to speak?


Do you mean the safety protections built into the Airbus FBW would have prevented the crashes? The suicide A320 pilot of the German airline proved that wrong. The safety protections might have kicked in in the Pentagon crash though.


I have to look into the Germanwings crash again, how did he override that system? I am sure an F/O knows how to though. I am not sure that the 9/11 hi-jackers would have has the sophistication to override the systems of an aircraft though.

CitizenJustin wrote:
This probably sounds a bit twisted, but I’ve always wondered what it would have looked like if a they hijaked a 747 to hit the towers. Would they have collapsed immediately, or same scenario?


Probably not a whole lot of a difference, perhaps anything above the strike collapses right away if the wingspan of a 747 is enough to span the width of the towers. The tower would have likely just collapsed faster.

aircatalonia wrote:
It may as well have happened. Some plane was obviously meant to hit building 7 and it never did. Maybe there was a substitution/delay/whatever.


Are you referring to UA93? That was clearly intended to hit either the White House or the Capital.

Has they hit the Empire State Building it would have been bad but that would have remained standing. That building is built like a fortress.
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BlueberryWheats
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Re: What if 9/11 hijackers got on airbus planes?

Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:29 pm

StarAC17 wrote:

Has they hit the Empire State Building it would have been bad but that would have remained standing. That building is built like a fortress.


Indeed. I'm sure it was the Empire State Building that survived a direct hit from a B-25 flying into it. (Obviously nowhere near the damage as a 767 flying into it, but still held up remarkably well.)

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Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos