Russia considers sky guards to combat air rage incidents

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Russia's civil aviation regulator has supported proposals from industry members to deploy specially equipped sky guards on their flights in order to combat air rage.

Rosaviatsia's security department chief, Yuri Saprykin, revealed that several leading airlines - including Aeroflot, Transaero and UTAir - had asked for the permission to add in-house security staff to flight crews.

"The main objective of this is to preclude air rage incidents by confronting troublemakers on board aircarft," he said at a transport security conference in Moscow.

"There has been an upsurge of such incidents over the past few months. The proposal is under consideration. We are in favour of that initiative."

Rosaviatsia has submitted an appropriate memorandum to the transport ministry for approval. It combines the airlines' arguments and amendments from the aviation watchdog.

In particular, the to-do list includes a proposal to allow qualifying security personnel to restrain unruly individuals aboard aircraft by using incapacitating stun guns and handcuffs.

"If the airline does not have an in-house security squad, we suggest that its flight crews should be given the legal right to use this gear," says Saprykin.

"We've also made a special point about the need to hand over alcoholic beverages bought by passengers in duty free shops upon the arrival rather than ahead of the boarding."

Aeroflot safety department director Oleg Petrila says the maximum fine for disruptive and threatening behaviour aboard aircraft should be raised substantially from the "laughable" sum of Rb5.000 ($165).

He adds: "We also stand for a legitimate possibility of blacklisting air rage passengers and banning them from flying on Aeroflot."

Irina Yarovaya, head of the parliamentary committee for security, says the legislature will study all proposals after receiving them as a bill from the transport ministry.