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Shooting Down Suicide Airplanes - What's Law Got to Do with it?

Issues in Aviation Law & Policy, Vol. 10, No. 2, p. 282, 2011

26 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2012  

Steven H. Resnicoff

DePaul University College of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2011


Five people seize control of an airplane containing innocent crew or passengers. It comes clear that the hijackers are going to crash the plane into a building in which there are other innocents who cannot be evacuated in time, killing all those aboard and many of those who are in the building.

But suppose it is possible for someone to bring the plane down before it hits its target. Under what conditions, if any, would it be right for someone to do so? And what does "law" have to do with the answer to this questions.

Part I surveys the variables affecting specific scenarios in which these questions arise nad identifies the principal ethical issues they raise. Part II examines the ways in which the legal systems of individual nations have thus far attempted to resolve them. Part III focuses on how the United States legal system might respond to such an effort. Finally, Part IV compares and contrasts the various national responses to that of one of the world's most ancient religious jurisprudential systems, namely Jewish law.

This article proffers neither an exhaustive examination of the issues nor definitive answers. Instead, it aspires to identify provocative issues and to provide important contextual information that can facilitate the framing of the questions and their further analysis. The Jewish law issues are only superficially discussed. The author is writing a book that will explore Jewish law much more intensively.

Keywords: terrorism, terrorist, suicide bomber, suicide plane, September 11th, Jewish law, Judaism, Germany, Poland, United States

Suggested Citation

Resnicoff, Steven H., Shooting Down Suicide Airplanes - What's Law Got to Do with it? (February 1, 2011). Issues in Aviation Law & Policy, Vol. 10, No. 2, p. 282, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Steven H. Resnicoff (Contact Author)

DePaul University College of Law ( email )

25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States
312-362-8137 (Phone)
312-362-5448 (Fax)

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