2006 Letter to Kenneth J. Hylander—Vice President—Safety, Engineering & Chief Safety Officer, NW Airlines
From: Field McConnell
To: Hylander, Ken J
Cc: Moore, Pete A; Campbell, Tim P
Sent: Sun Dec 10 21:59:10 2006
Subject: FW: Captain McConnell Says “Clear the Skies”
9223 50th Ave S
Glyndon MN 56547
Director of Safety Northwest Airlines
Eagan MN 55111
Air Line Pilots Association
1625 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington DC 20036
10 December, 2006 Gentlemen:
Re: Captain McConnell Says “Clear the Skies”
It has come to my attention over the last 96 hours that a QRS-11* GyroChip gyroscope with military applications exists. I understand that at least 96 passenger aircraft have been illegally modified with QRS-11 missile-guidance technology and at least 27 GyroChip-equipped flight boxes have been exported without licenses by Boeing without the knowledge or informed consent of airline companies, unions, or pilots.
Under the authority demanded of me on page 9.1.1. of the Flight Operations Manual, specifically bullet statement 4 “The Captain WILL make the FINAL decision as to whether the aircraft may be safely operated.” I deem it impossible to comply with the requirement of 9.1.1. until any captain can know, without a doubt, that QRS-11 is not embedded on his particular jet.
In my experience, Northwest Airlines has always put safety first regardless of the costs. I suggest our company can address this issue and be the first airline in the world to be declared QRS-11 cleansed. The potential risk of not determining the existence, or lack thereof, of a threat may facilitate a second 9-11 style incident.
The body of evidence supporting my concern is established and vast. I assure you my interests are in keeping with the interests of NWA. I believe we can use this as a competitive advantage, however safety must come first. I am going to suggest that ALPA and IFALPA considering “standing down the fleets” until this possibility is resolved.
On 9-11 an order was given to “clear the skies”.
I ask ALPA to consider issuing that order again within 72 hours if independent discovery cannot identify the threat.
With grave concern and an eagerness to help,
28 year airline employee
22 year military pilot
23,000+ hours of safety
PS: I wish to allow NWA to have this information prior to ALPA being advised no later than 1000 on 12-11-06. I am at 218 329 2993 or 218 498 2568.
Notes to “Captain McConnell Says ‘Clear the Skies’ “
“The State Department charges against Boeing relate to the export of jets that contain a gyroscopic microchip called QRS-11, used as a backup system in determining a plane’s orientation in the air. Though a Boeing document refers to the chip as “relatively unsophisticated” technology, the gyrochip also has been used to help stabilize and steer guided missiles. In the draft charging letter, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls alleges that between 2000 and 2003 Boeing broke export control laws in shipping to China and other countries what was then classified as militarily significant technology. Further, it claims the company did so deliberately and repeatedly even after it had been warned to stop. “False statements” Boeing “was aware that a [State] Department export license was required but chose to export without authorization by using false statements on documents,” the charging letter alleges. Boeing managers declared on shipping certificates that no export license was required, even after the State Department had told the company otherwise, according to the letter. Boeing eventually acknowledged to the State Department it had exported 96 aircraft and 27 spare gyrochip-equipped flight boxes without export licenses. The QRS-11 chip, made by a unit of BEI Technologies in Concord, Calif., is just over 1-½ inches in diameter and weighs about 2 ounces. It sells for between $1,000 and $2,000. Described as “a gyro on a chip,” it is used to help control the flight of missiles and aircraft.”
A labor lawyer orders “Clear the Skies” ……”Sept. 11 is [Ben] Sliney’s first day on the job as national operations manager [of the FAA], the chess master of the air traffic system. The New Yorker, a lawyer who once sued the FAA on behalf of air traffic controllers [the mobbed-up Laborers (‘LIUNA’) union?], now walks the floor of the center — a room that resembles NASA’s Mission Control .. For the last 30 minutes, since the second Trade Center tower was hit, Sliney has considered bringing every flight down. Now, the manager in charge of the nation’s air traffic system is certain. He has no time to consult with FAA officials in Washington. The skies are filled with guided missiles, he thinks. Filled with them .. The hijackers did have more planes .. “Order everyone to land! Regardless of destination!” Sliney shouts .. “OK, let’s get them on the ground!” Sliney booms. Within seconds, specialists pass the order on to facilities across the country. For the first time in history, the government has ordered every commercial and private plane from the sky .. 9:45 a.m.: 3,949 planes ..In Washington, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and her deputy, Monte Belger, have been moving back and forth between a secret operations center [where?] and their offices. Throughout the morning, staffers have kept Garvey and Belger apprised of Sliney’s decisions. Now, they tell them of the order to clear the skies. With little discussion, the FAA leaders approve.”