Schumer calls on feds to look into safeguarding airlines from missiles

Sen. Charles Schumer called on the federal government Sunday to look into the possibility of installing anti-missile technology on commercial aircraft in light of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine.

Schumer, who was joined at news conference at his midtown office by U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Suffolk), said the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA and the Department of Defense shouldn’t hesitate to consider safeguarding planes with devices such as onboard lasers, warning systems, flares and other devices.

“The recent events are disturbing,” Schumer said. “Terrorism is cropping up all over the globe.”

The two pols requested that the agencies conduct a study that would examine the feasibility of putting the technology on the planes and come up with recommendations to safeguard passengers. A similar study was conducted by the FAA and homeland security in 2004 and concluded that such measures were too costly, however Schumer argued not only has the technology gotten cheaper but also terrorists have become more dangerous with new weapons.

The senator added that there would be other long-term costs if a U.S. plane was destroyed by a missile.

“The worst thing that could happen to the economy is if one of our airlines, God forbid, gets shot down,” he said.

All of Malaysia Airlines MH17’s 298 passengers were killed on July 17 when Russian supported forces in Ukraine allegedly shot it down when it flew over their airspace. The flight recorders were recovered and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been under fire from the international community for his country’s escalating conflict with Ukraine.