TSA chief defends allowing knives on planes

The Transportation Security Administration issued these guidelines in March to show which knives would and would not be allowed on planes under a revised policy. The change has been put on hold.
(Transportation Security Administration)

Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole has delayed a plan to let passengers carry small pocketknives on planes for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

But it is clear from a speech he gave last week at George Washington University that he still supports allowing knives on planes.

Pistole delayed the change, initially scheduled to take effect April 25, after hearing concerns from a panel of airline industry representatives, including pilots and flight attendants.

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But in his speech at the university, he said, “It is the judgment of many security experts worldwide, a judgment with which I agree, that a small pocketknife is simply not going to result in the catastrophic failure of an aircraft.”

In contrast, he added: “An undetected and successfully detonated improvised explosive device will.”

Pistole noted that the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization adopted a policy in 2010 allowing passengers to carry knives with blades 6 centimeters in length or shorter on commercial planes.

Since then, Pistole said, billions of commercial airline passengers around the world have been allowed to carry such knives on foreign carriers without a reported security incident involving knives.



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