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pleiades's avatar

How did air control during 9/11 not prevent the planes going into the towers?

Asked by pleiades (6164 points ) May 14th, 2013

Was watching Breaking Bad and they showed the scene of the air traffic control room. Looks pretty hectic. With that being said, wouldn’t New Yorks air traffic control be a much more tighter and anal group since planes would be flying over that huge city? I’m starting to sound like a crazy YouTube theorist so I’ll keep it simple to the question title.

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18 Answers

rooeytoo's avatar

What could they have done? I don’t think they could have gotten fighter planes into action within the time they realized what was going on. And even if they could have, were they going to shoot planes down over NYC when they really weren’t sure what was going on? When they did realise what was happening I think they were in that proverbial spot between a rock and a hard place.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Air traffic control did not have the capability to change the planes course remotely. They were not RC toys. The planes were controlled by the 19 nutjobs on them.

I’ll bet all sorts of alarms were going off during the last minutes. They were not able to do anything about it. What would you do? Shoot them out of the sky above NYC?

Imagine driving the wrong way on a street and think of your poor GPS saying ‘Rrecalculating! Recalulating! Recalculating!” over and over until you crash.

laureth's avatar

The air traffic controllers can tell them to stop. “American Airlines Flight 11 N334AA, you are not cleared to crash into the building. Repeat, you are NOT CLEARED to crash into the building! Not OK!” But that’s about what they can do.

But, if you have just planned for months or years or whatever to take over a plane and crash it into the WTC or Pentagon, you’re not going to let a little thing like that dissuade you, eh?

YARNLADY's avatar

The pilot decides where the airplane goes, not air control. Air control can only tell the pilot what to do, but if the pilot doesn’t follow instructions, nothing can be done.

JLeslie's avatar

Air traffic control once seeing the planes are off course and not willing to change course are supposed to alert NORAD (I think it stands for North American Aerospace something Response Air Defense?) and then a decision is made to scramble military jets to possibly escort and possibly shoot the plane down if a danger to the public at large is determined. From what I remember air traffic control did not alert NORAD fast enough with the flights that were off course, they failed to follow protocol. I don’t know if once notified if NORAD also was slow to respond? I have no idea exactly was done by NORAD. Even if the jets were escorting the planes that wound up crashing, there are all sorts of diffultiess to consider. Being over a major city there are obviously dangers in shooting down the plane. Also, if they had downed the plane, there would be all sorts of second guessing about whether it was necessary and the US government would be under scrutiny. Since 9/11 had many flights crash, there would probably have been only a reasonable amount of second guessing, but imagine if our government had shot down all the planes that crashed before they crashed into the buildings, Twin Towers, Pentagon, or even in PA. Imagine the consipiracy theories and backlash.

FutureMemory's avatar

All they can do is track the planes. The control of the planes is 100% determined by who’s sitting in the pilot seats.

dabbler's avatar

The jets that would have been deployed in a NORAD scramble around NYC were occupied in a rarely done exercise located elsewhere in the NorthEast.
...It does make the conspiracy bone itch a bit.

JLeslie's avatar

@dabbler Alright, your comment caused me to actually google instead of just relying on my memory, because your assertion implies no one was at NORAD to react to a call. I found this in wikipedia that explains what happened on 9/11 in regards to flight control and NORAD. There were pilots at the ready.

dabbler's avatar

I was recalling this aspect “two F-16s from the 177th Fighter Wing were away from base performing a training mission” and I think there were other fighters on that training mission that were usually based closer to NYC than Boston or Virginia.

marinelife's avatar

They can only talk to the planes not control them. It is up to the pilots to follow their instructions.

raven860's avatar

Perhaps we should mandate a way for airplanes to be remotely controlled. But then again…there is always a way to break into these systems. So it possibly would not matter.

KNOWITALL's avatar

So any theories as to the death toll or alternative scenerio’s if it had been destroyed prior to hitting the towers?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@serenade Absolutely chilling.

ucme's avatar

As others have said, there’s only so much a control tower can do & getting a hate fuelled terrorist on side is definitely not one of them.

cheebdragon's avatar

You know that being an air traffic controller has nothing to do with actually flying the planes right? They are more or less just crossing guards for traffic, they let the planes know when they can go, when they can land and what terminal to park at.

Judi's avatar

They can’t take control of the planes. They can’t move the buildings, what would you want them to do?

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