Friday, January 26, 2007

Where does the bullet go?

When an armed airline pilot has to shoot a gun at a hijacker, where does the bullet go? If it goes through the body of the hijacker, will it also go through the fuselage of the plane? If the pilot misses, does the bullet go into the passenger cabin? Does it go through the wall or ceiling of the pressurized cabin? What then? Or are "short-range" bullets used? This is a question that no news program I've watched appears to address.


Joel Monka said...

According to this USA Today article , they use hollow point bullets, which expand and flatten when they hit something- so if they do hit the terrorist, the bullet will not go all the way through his body. I know from experience that this type of bullet will also flatten or deform if it hits any other solid object as well, making it less likely to penetrate the fuselage if that’s where the shot goes.

Even if the bullet does penetrate the fuselage, it’s extremely unlikely to do any real damage. The horrors of explosive decompression are a staple of science fiction, but in real life a hole as small as a bullet hole would be meaningless. One airliner in Hawaii lost the entire top half of the passenger cabin in flight, and still made it down safely with no fatalities among the passengers see this picture . If you’re wondering, the plane was quite old, way beyond its design life, and metal fatigue caused the skin to fail in flight.

ms. kitty said...

Thank you, Joel. I'm not sure I like armed pilots, but your explanation makes sense and reassures me.