U.S. lawmakers push bill for greater cockpit safety

U.S. lawmakers are introducing a bipartisan bill pushing for the installation of a secondary door between the cabin and cockpit on passenger airlines. This increase in onboard safety is intended to ensure there can be no attack using commercial aircraft as witnessed with the September 11, 2001 attack. The bill comes a year after Congress successfully imposed the requirement for a second door on all newly manufactured passenger aircraft to avoid an instance where a would-be hijacker could take advantage of instances where pilots take bathroom breaks or meals.

The new bill was introduced by both Democrat and Republican parties, extending the new requirement to all passenger jets. The second door will allow for the closure of one door to or from the cockpit before opening the second to maximize security. Currently either a flight attendant or food cart are in front of he single cockpit door. As reported by Reuters, a study by the Federal Aviation Administration concluded that cockpits are vulnerable when pilots step out and cited secondary doors as the most efficient, cost-effective form of protection, according to the news release issued on Wednesday. Lawmakers estimate the cost of retrofitting a secondary door at between US$5,000 and US$12,000 per aircraft.

The pilots’ union, The Air Line Pilots Association, supports the legislation and called on the FAA to immediately implement the language required by Congress last year on new passenger aircraft “to help ensure the security of our cockpits.” Airlines for America – an industry trade group representing large commercial carriers like American Airlines Group Inc, Southwest Airlines Co and United – said individual airlines should be the ones to decide whether to install such systems.

The new bill for secondary barriers is called the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act after pilot Victor Saracini, who was killed when his plane was hijacked during the 9/11 attacks.

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