On April 29, 2013, a year ago today, ALPA joined Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and 9/11 pilot widow Ellen Saracini to announce the introduction of the Saracini Aviation Safety Act of 2013 (H.R. 1775). H.R. 1775 is a critical piece of legislation that will protect passengers and pilots from another 9/11-style attack by installing secondary barriers outside the cockpit.
Background: In 2001, Congress mandated the installation of reinforced cockpit doors on most commercial aircraft as the first step toward preventing another 9/11-style breach. Airlines are required to use procedures to protect the cockpit when the reinforced door is opened during flight for pilots’ meals, restroom use, and other reasons. To provide better security, secondary barriers were developed to block access whenever the cockpit door is open during flight. Voluntary airline industry movement toward adopting secondary barriers began in 2003, but commitment to deploying these devices has since waned.
The reinforced cockpit door has added a valuable level of protection to the flight deck, but does not completely eliminate the opportunity for hostile takeover of the cockpit. With a secondary barrier delaying a potential attacker by 5 seconds, along with the standardized crew procedures for flight deck door transitions, the security of the flight deck and the overall traveling public would be greatly enhanced.
With more than 55 House cosponsors, due to the leadership by Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, the Saracini Aviation Safety Act of 2013 has become a bipartisan bill that simply fulfills Congress’s intent from more than a decade ago to make cockpits more secure. ALPA has played a critical role in educating members of Congress on the need for a more secure cockpit and how this bill achieves that goal.
“If we learned anything from the 9/11 attack, it is that deterrence is essential to protecting Americans. After the 9/11 attacks, the FAA mandated the installation of reinforced cockpit doors on all commercial flights. The problem is that at some point, the pilots need to open the cockpit door to get a meal or rest. That is the exact moment when terrorists strike.” – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)
We have also seen progress on the Senate side. On Sept. 11, 2013, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced H.R. 1775’s Senate companion bill, S. 1495. Due to ALPA’s push for a more secure cockpit, S. 1495 has drawn support from both sides of the political aisle, making the “Saracini Aviation Safety Act” a bicameral, bipartisan bill.
A lot has been done to enhance cockpit security this year, but we can’t stop here. We are asking all pilots to tell their representatives to cosponsor this bill today. Now more than ever, we need a more secure cockpit.
Tell Congress you support passenger safety and a more secure cockpit. Write to your representatives using our Call to Action system here: Support H.R. 1775: The Saracini Aviation Safety Act of 2013.