World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sky marshal

Article Id: WHEBN0000428395
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sky marshal  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Airline, Qantas Flight 1737, Prüm Convention, Anger Management (film), Posse comitatus (common law)
Collection: Counter-Terrorism, Law Enforcement Occupations, National Security, Sky Marshals
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sky marshal

A sky marshal (also known as air marshal or flight marshal) is an undercover law enforcement or counter terrorist agent on board a commercial aircraft to counter aircraft hijackings. Sky marshals may be provided by airlines such as El Al (who provide sky marshals on every flight), or by government agencies such as the Austrian Einsatzkommando Cobra, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, German Federal Police, National Security Guard in India, Metropolitan Police SO18 (Aviation Security Operational Command Unit) or US Federal Air Marshal Service.


  • History 1
    • Australia 1.1
    • Austria 1.2
    • Canada 1.3
    • India 1.4
    • Ireland 1.5
    • Singapore 1.6
    • United Kingdom 1.7
    • United States 1.8
  • Fictional references 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5



In response to the September 11 incidents, the Commonwealth instituted an Air Security Officer (ASO) Program under the Australian Federal Police in December 2001.[1][2] These officers are generally referred to in the media as Sky Marshals.[3] The ASO Programme provides a discreet anti-hijacking capability for Australian civil aviation by providing armed security personnel on board aircraft.[2] This involves both random and intelligence-led placement of armed ASOs on flights operated by Australian registered air carriers, on both domestic and international flights.

Officers are armed and trained and equipped for a variety of situations on both domestic and international flights.[4][5]


In Austria, armed air marshals are provided since 1981 by the Einsatzkommando Cobra.


The Canadian Air Carrier Protection/Protective Program (CACPP) began on September 17, 2002 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with Transport Canada, the authority responsible for Canadian aviation security, and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), for the implementation and administration of the CACPP. The program is conducted by specially trained undercover, armed RCMP officers (known as Aircraft Protective Officers- APOs) on selected domestic and international flights and all flights to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Pilots and flight attendants are advised of their presence and the officer will physically intervene should an unauthorized person attempt to gain control of an aircraft.[6] APOs, however, will not be involved in controlling unruly passengers.[7] While they are peace officers within Canadian territories, they rely on section 6(2) of the Tokyo Convention as a legal basis for intervening an incident outside of Canadian airspace.[7] By law, such officers are exempt from acquiring a permit for importing or exporting their duty firearms when crossing the border.[8] However, the exact nature of their weaponry is not released to the public except they are "deadly and effective and should not damage the aircraft." [9] The Canadian Forces Military Police members of the Canadian Forces Air Marshal Detail, are responsible for providing security to Canadian Forces aircraft, crew and passengers – passengers who may include the Governor General, the Prime Minister and members of the Royal Family.[10]


Months after the September 11 attacks, private operators like Jet Airways and Air Sahara introduced sky marshals in some of their flights and had plans to increase it. Indian Airlines had previously started this in December 1999 after the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814.[11]

In 2003, Air India had an agreement with a US directive to have air marshals on all of its US-bound flights. They are recruited from India's elite commando force National Security Guard.[12]


Ireland does not have a dedicated sky marshal agency, although there is a National Civil Aviation Security Committee (NCASC). Limited capabilities are provided by the Garda Síochána Emergency Response Unit (ERU), the national police armed tactical unit, and backup may be provided by the counter-terrorism Garda Special Detective Unit (SDU) and the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) special forces unit in certain situations.[13][14]

The Irish government allows armed flight marshals from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Israel, Australia and specific European Union (EU) countries onboard international flights landing from or destined for those countries in Irish airspace, once they are informed of their presence beforehand. Weapons carried by an air marshal in Ireland include a concealed handgun, taser, knife and pepper spray.[15]


Singapore Airlines and Silkair deploys sky marshals in their flights. Such members are armed with firearms loaded with special ammunition and dart-firing stun gun.

Members are usually from either the Air Marshal Unit, the Security Command or the Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) of the Singapore Police Force. Members have undergone extensive training to enable them to operate effectively within the confines of an aircraft.

United Kingdom

Sky Marshals are rarely used on flights originating from the UK. Officers from The Metropolitan Police Service Aviation Security Operational Command Unit (SO18) are used on random flights, however details of the programme are not made public and the extent of their use is not widely known. For this reason their use is not heavily documented in the media.

United States

The US Rigoberto Alpizar was shot dead by two sky marshals on a jetway at Miami International Airport. Currently, Federal Air Marshal Officers are under the Transportation Security Administration. Under the Visible Intermodal Prevention Response (VIPR) system, started up circa 2005, FAMs began to patrol non-aviation sites like bus terminals and train stations.[16]

On May 30, 2013, the first book ever written on the history of the air marshals was published in the United States by former air marshal Clay Biles. The book, titled The United States Federal Air Marshal Service: A Historical Perspective, 1962–2012 gave never-before-released information on the more than fifty years of Federal Air Marshal Service. The author interviewed a number of former Sky Marshals and contributed significantly to reversing the lack of information on this short-duration program.[17][18]

Fictional references

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Gazette magazine - The Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program
  7. ^ a b APEC CACPP Presentation
  8. ^ SOR/2008-45: Export and Import Permits Act: Exemption Regulations (Persons), Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 142, No. 6
  9. ^ Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ See article on Visible Intermodal Prevention Response
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.