Hijackers at the controls

Sun Journal

September 16, 2001|By Arthur Hirsch

The hijackers who carried out Tuesday's attacks, crashing planes in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, overpowered the flight crews and entered the cockpits of four passenger airliners: two Boeing 757s and two Boeing 767s flown by United Airlines and American Airlines.

The hijackers were able to fly the planes and switch off the transponder, making it impossible for air traffic controllers to track the airliners. The 757s were crashed into the Pentagon and a field south of Pittsburgh, in Somerset County, Pa.; the 767s were used to attack the World Trade Center twin towers.

Since Boeing put both twin-engine, medium-range jets into service in 1982 and 1983, some 80 commercial airlines and four government agencies have purchased about 1,800 of them. According to Boeing, the 767 flies the trans-Atlantic route more frequently than all other jetliners combined.

The wide-body 767 is broader and heavier and can carry more passengers than the 757, but the two planes share a common pilot rating: a pilot certified to fly one of the jets is qualified to fly the other. Their respective instrument panels and cockpit layouts are essentially the same. Allowing for some variations ordered by different airlines, this is the 757 cockpit.

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