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Salon Magazine article re: MSFS and terrorists

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An author at the online magazine "Salon" has re-opened the debate regarding the potential terrorist use of flight simulation programs.Unlike some of the hysteria re: flight sims (MSFS in particular) that arose immediately post- 9/11, this article does not attempt to firmly link FS to the 9/11 incidents, though the author does not reject the possibility that simulation may have played a role.The author did his homework, and the story is generally accurate insofar as its coverage of the current state of the art in simulations and add-ons. PSS and PIC products are discussed specifically.I have to wonder if this is going to ignite another round of "hysteria" regarding computer flight simulation. Unfortunately, Salon is a subscription site, and the entire text of the story may not be available to non-subscribers.I have to wonder about the timing of this article, just 6 days before the official release of FS 2004.Jim Barrett

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I often wondered if those responsible for flying those jets into the towers had copies of 767-PIC. Like guns in the wrong hands, flight simulation programs can aid those with bad intent. Luckily that's not the case for most of us.Robb

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Not this again! After 9/11, Il'l never forget when Solidad O'Brien of NBC's Today Show (She's now moved to CNN) interviewed someone from Microsoft and literally pleaded with him to dumb down MSFS in order to prevent acts of terrorism. It was one ot most absurd moments in the history of televison news.

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"Like guns in the wrong hands, flight simulation programs can aid those with bad intent. Luckily that's not the case for most of us."Why did they need 767-PIC? Civilian pilot training does not require a security clearance. Please recall that they had extensive real world pilot training. Moreover, airliners are commercial products, and as such, detailed information on their operation is widely available from numerous sources. There was nothing in MSFS, 767-PIC, or any other desktop simulation that cannot be obtianed elsewhere.For that matter, there is nothing magical about airplanes and terrorists. "Those with bad intent" hardly need airliners to do their dirty work. The first attack on the WTC was done with a car bomb, and would have caused much the same result if somehting had not gone wrong. Such people will use whatever tools they can find. You have to go after the people that want to do this, not their tools. Andrew

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Hi Jim,>I have to wonder if this is going to ignite another round of "hysteria" regarding computer flight simulation.:)).As to 9/11, it is clear that the terrorists prepared meticulously for their task. The fact that all the planes used in the attacks shared a common type rating would suggest the terrorists had acquired some familiarity with that type by whatever means, and it would seem reasonable to assume that any material that was helpful in the preparation would have been welcomed by the attackers, including MSFS and PIC. The more interesting question, IMHO, would be, how much of a deciding factor the aircraft type actually was - i.e. would we have seen one less hijacking, if one of the 757s had been replaced at the last minute by an A320?Cheers,Gosta.http://hifi.avsim.net/activesky/images/wxrebeta.jpg

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This discussion triggered some memories of that days: I flew for a couple hours on the full motion sim on september 8 and on september 13 I was reported to the authorities (no I am not writing this from Guantanamo Bay :-)). But getting to the point: with only MSFS/PIC experience you can

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Yes, Andrew, what you said makes sense. However, you won't find more information concerning the characteristics of a 767 in a more efficient form than that obtained on 767PIC. You could indeed find the same information using other sources, but it would require much more time to obtain it. It would not have surprised me if they used multiple sources including a program such as 767PIC.I am not talking about hypotheticals here. Those with bad intent happened to use airliners to inflict more damage to mainland USA than has ever been done with all of the car bombings and other terroristic or military methods combined.Do you have specific information to the contrary concerning either of the above facts?Robb

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I totally agree with you Ton. If BA does not consider a full motion sim a tool that can be used by terrorists, why should the government and the public worry by PC sim/game?MSFS might be used in the training of those terrorists, as well as full motion sims and flying schools...RgdsMarcelo

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The people that believe that Flight Sim was a significant training aid for the 9/11 terrorists, are the same ones who come on the forums in here and believe since they greased a landing with a toy yoke and peddles (or worse a forced feedback joystick), that they could somehow "land" a (your airliner of your choice) safely if both pilots were incapacitated.Both of these contentions are the realm of fantasy.To think that playing flight simulator would give me the level of control necessary to "fly" an airliner, is like saying playing Rainbow Six, will turn me into a special ops, covert anti-terrorist agent.All of the terrorist pilots had attended flight school. All of the terroist pilots had actual stick and rudder time, And many of them even had time in jets.The World Trade Center and Pentagon were the largest landmarks in the area, which meant you didn't even have to really look hard to pick them out.Computer Flight Simulation, even with all the add-on's, 767-PIC, and such still only provides a tool to help you read your basic gauges and to simulate relying on them only to help with IFR.Does playing Need for Speed teach anyone how to drive? Of course not, so how does Flight Sim, teach anyone how to fly a Plane that is MUCH more complex than an average automobile?So please, lets not give credence to anyone who claims that Flight Sim can help train terroists, or can help novices land commercial airliners.Personally if some nutbag volunteered to 'fly the plane' based soley on that he is a flight simmer, I would beat him down before he took two steps toward the flight deck.

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AFAIK IranAir has some 767s?There was quite a lot of speculation that some airline somewhere (possibly IranAir or Yemenia) had provided training to the terrorists to give them enough proficiency to use the autopilots on the 767 and 757 series aircraft to get in the vicinity of the target, then handfly them on terminal trajectory.MSFS MIGHT have been used to help them in determining timing and recognition of landmarks from the air (however imperfect, it's better than nothing).

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