A Not-So Clear and Present DangerInteresting that a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said recently that intelligence reports indicate that the use of a man-portable missile system against commercial aircraft in the United States is not imminent (see "Missile Protection for Commercial Airlines Debated"). Companies hawking technology for protecting aircraft from this threat, such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, often cite the most frightening statistics they can find on the subject.
That's not to say that developing technology to protect against the threat is a bad idea necessarily. Just that questions about whether money might be better spent on other things for protecting domestic security -- whether related to commercial aircraft or not -- seem reasonable to ask.
The topic of commercial aircraft countermeasures has already engendered a fair amount of debate (see, for example, "Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies"), and as John Meenan, an executive with the Air Transport Association lobbying group in Washington, said recently, will likely be debated much more hotly when Congress must make some real decisions about whether to require commercial airlines to actually use this equipment.