ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Steve Israel are urging federal authorities to study whether U.S. passenger jets should be equipped with devices that would protect them against missiles like those that recently shot down a Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine and projectiles fired near Tel Aviv airport in Israel.
Schumer, D-N.Y., and Israel, D-Huntington, held a news conference Sunday calling for a comprehensive interagency study by the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Department and Federal Aviation Administration.
Schumer noted a federal study on the technology was done in 2004, but no action was taken.
“It may be easier, quicker, more effective and cheaper (now),” Schumer told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.
According to Schumer, the Government Accountability Office suggests that more than 500,000 portable surface-to-air missiles are in existence worldwide, with a substantial number acquired by terrorists.
Portable missiles packaged in tubes, the launching mechanism and battery can fit in a car trunk.
Schumer said that since 1973, 30 civilian aircraft have been downed by shoulder-fired missiles, resulting in more than 900 deaths.
Rep. Israel said the cost of protecting planes is not as much as people might think, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
“The cost is about a million dollars per plane,” the congressman said. “The cost of an in-flight entertainment system on planes is a million dollars. What’s safer for America’s passengers, being able to watch ‘Fletch’ at 30,000 feet, or knowing that when your plane lands or takes off you are safe against a shoulder-fired missile attack?”
Added Schumer: “When you consider a new jetliner costs between a hundred and two hundred million dollars, that is not that great a cost.”
It’s not clear whether the federal government or the airlines would pay for the systems.
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