David Learmount/LONDON

Efforts to undertake research into the causes of air rage attacks on cabin crew are being held up by a reluctance to fund the work, it has emerged at a Passenger Behaviour seminar held at Heathrow Airport, London, on 29 October.

The UK's Cranfield University has proposed a form of appropriate research, but says that no agencies are prepared to fund it.

Speaking at the recent UK Flight Safety Committee's conference, British Airways head of security Iain Jack backed the call, saying that BA would take the issue to UK transport minister Dr John Reid. The seminar took place just a few days after a passenger, on arrival at Malaga, Spain, from London, UK on 29 October, was arrested after allegedly smashing a vodka bottle over the head of an Airtours Intern- ational attendant and attacking her with the broken glass. Incidences of serious attacks by passengers on cabin crew are growing.

To enable effective preventive practices to be developed, psychologist Professor Helen Muir and physiology professor John Moyle of Cranfield University's College of Aeronautics have proposed a programme of scientific testing.

Using an existing large decompression chamber, the research will examine the effects that alcohol has on behaviour when combined with high cabin altitude, high carbon dioxide levels, and the effects of confinement in a close environment with other people. Muir confirmed that the UK Civil Aviation Authority has not agreed to fund the examination, believing the issue to be a police matter and thus an issue for the Home Office.

On the wider issue of air rage, UK CAA regulatory enforcement chief, Mike Gibson, said that one of the main problems in combating the trend was that being a disruptive passenger is not an offence in its own right, and that the CAA and police are forced to deal with the issue by using statutes which were designed for other offences.

Specific legislation needs to be framed for disruptive behaviour on aircraft, he said. Violent behaviour in an aircraft creates unique problems, says Gibson, because of the confined space, aircraft safety issues, and the fact that crossing international borders complicates jurisdiction and limits powers of arrest.

Meanwhile, an International Air Transport Association working group says it is concentrating on determining methods for prevention as well as urging a global legal approach to the issue.

Air France is the latest to announce plans to implement a programme to study "air rage" issues.

Source: Flight International