PETALING JAYA: A former aviation security officer has rejected the suggestion that more could have been done to prevent the recent incident involving a Bangladeshi man who stripped naked onboard a Malindo Air flight last Saturday.
The man was restrained with the help of passengers and forced to put on his clothes, while a stewardess who asked him to dress himself was attacked.
National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) president Ismail Nasaruddin had called for better profiling procedures to prevent such passengers from entering the plane in the first place.
He told FMT that profiling passengers could be done randomly at the airport itself and that security personnel should be positioned at boarding gates to look out for such passengers.
However, Khen Han Ming, a former aviation security officer with Malaysia Airlines, said everything Ismail had suggested was already standard operating procedure.
Khen, who is now principal security consultant at JK Associates, said the first step of profiling begins the moment passengers check in with their passports.
“Aviation security officers profile passengers for threats, including sabotage, hijacking and pilferage, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Annex 17 requirements,” Khen told FMT.
“Aviation security officers profile you up to the point you step into the aircraft. Besides documents and belongings, they also look at your behaviour.”
Khen said despite the tight security and strict profiling of passengers before they get onboard, there were two types of passengers who were hard to prevent – those who get drunk once onboard and those who are mentally challenged or emotionally unstable.
“In the case of a drunk passenger, the airline has the discretion to offload the person.
“But airlines cannot discriminate against those who are disabled or unstable in any way.”
According to Bangladeshi-based news portal bdnews24, the naked passenger was handed over to his father after the father showed medical documents proving that his son was suffering from a mental illness.
The man has been taken to a hospital for observation.
Cabin crew training
Ismail had also said that it was not right to depend on the airplane crew alone as they needed to focus on the service and comfort of their passengers.
Khen, however, criticised the statement saying that service and comfort was secondary to safety. He added that the onboard crew were trained to handle such scenarios.
“I would like to remind Nufam that handling disruptive passengers is also one of the most basic elements of any cabin crew training programme.
“They have regular refresher training on this and every flight is equipped with restraint kits for such incidents.”