According to John Leguizamo in his autobiography, his frequent improvisation angered Kurt Russell so much that they got into a shoving match. Leguizamo's improvised line "Hope the smell doesn't give us away." started the fight.
Originally developed at Paramount, the studio put the project in turnaround and sold to Warner Bros. in exchange for the rights and screenplay to Forrest Gump (1994). Executive Decision was considered a hot project while Forrest Gump was going through multiple problems with the script and casting. In addition, some Warner executives were afraid that the success of Rain Man (1988) would preempt Gump due to the perceived similarities of the projects' subject material (both involved lead characters with mental disabilities).
The F-14 Tomcats that intercept the 747 are actual US Navy Tomcats that the Navy agreed to use in the movie. The aircraft were from the squadron VF-84 Jolly Rogers, and the filming of this movie was one of the squadron's last official duties before being disbanded.
The name of Steven Seagal's character, Austin Travis, is derived from the city of Austin, Texas, which is located in Travis County. The city of Austin and Travis County both are named to honor heroes of Texas. William Barret Travis was commanding officer at the Alamo during the war for independence against Mexico in 1836. Steven F. Austin led the first 300 settlers to Texas and is honored with the title of Father of Texas.
When Kurt Russell and John Rixey Moore are in the straight tail Beechcraft Bonanza, the plane's tail number is N2TS. This is John Rixey Moore's personal airplane. Both actors are shown in the actual plane's interior.
Like Stargate (1994), this movie features a small military team sent into a dangerous and unprecedented situation along with a small number of civilian specialists. In that movie, Kurt Russell was the military team leader; this time he's a civilian.
Sergeant Baker, played by Whip Hubley, pays a memorable backhanded compliment to the Navy F-14 pilots at a crucial point in the movie. Hubley previously played a Navy F-14 fighter pilot in Top Gun (1986).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Originally, Travis was to die due to low cabin pressure causing his head to explode. Steven Seagal refused to shoot this scene for fear his fans would not like it. Director Stuart Baird insisted he must do it as scripted, though Seagal held up filming for a few days and argued that the scene was not realistic. Finally after threat of contractual breach, Seagal agreed to return to filming and a new death scene was scripted.
When it is time for Dr. Grant - a student pilot who has not yet soloed - to try landing a 747, he does several things extraordinarily correctly. He recognizes that he does not know the limitations of his plane, and asks for the Pilot Operating Handbook. Also correct is the federal requirement to have the POH available on the flight deck at all times. He understands that every plane has an approach & landing speed or it will pancake on touchdown. He almost stalled the plane by slowing with out extending the flaps but he worked it out as a competent person would and he figured out the next alarm quickly about the landing gear. Finally, when faced with an obviously too-high approach, he realized that he did not have the expertise to turn around as the flight attendant suggested, but he got his bearings and located the small field that he was taking lessons at and set the plane down there even though he ended up off the end of the runway. His knowledge of this complex airplane is probably because he took his flying lessons in a plane with a powerful engine and retractable landing gear, which is the only truly unrealistic aspect - 99% of student pilots will learn to solo in the smallest, cheapest, and least complex trainer available.
At the end of the movie, David Grant asks Jean if she likes hockey, and Jean replies, "Hockey? No, I only like baseball." At the time, Halle Berry was married to then-Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice.