Michigan Toughens Airline Weapons Stance, ALPA Warns

Some states have toughened their laws on security since Sept. 11, 2001. Case in point: A new law went into effect in the state of Michigan on April 1, making a felony crime of boarding or trying to board an airliner while possessing a "firearm; explosive; knife with a blade of any length; a razor, box cutter, or item with a similar blade; or any other dangerous weapon."

The crime would be punishable by imprisonment for as long as 10 years or a fine of as much as $10,000, or both. Felony charges would also be brought against any person "placing, attempting to place, or attempting to have placed" the items listed above on an airliner.

The new legislation also says that to "possess, carry, or attempt to possess or carry" any of these items in a sterile area of an airport served by an airline is a misdemeanor. The penalty for such a misdemeanor would be imprisonment for as long as 1 year or a fine of as much as $1,000, or both.

While such laws have been enacted for the protection of everyone who flies, flight crews should be aware that these laws impose an additional statutory threat to anyone undergoing present methods of airport security screening, including pilots.

Translation: In some states, you can now be prosecuted under federal and state laws for forgetting to leave your pocketknife at home. It might seem like stating the obvious, but a reminder doesn’t hurt: Take extra care in checking what you take to the airport. Penalties for having the wrong things in your pockets have become more severe.