Secondary Cockpit Barrier Legislation Introduced in U.S.
U.S. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has proposed new legislation [H.R. 1775] to require secondary cockpit safety barriers on Part 121 airliners. The metal barrier would be lowered between the first row of seats and the existing hardened cockpit door whenever a pilot leaves the flight deck.
The extra-barrier idea evolved from a study conducted by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) at the request of the FAA, the Air Line Pilots Association and other industry stakeholders to provide more specific guidance on securing the flight deck.
Currently, many airlines require flight attendants to push a service cart into the aisle to block any attempt to enter the cockpit when the door opens in flight. The secondary barrier looks much like a six-foot-tall oven rack-like door that flight attendants could swing into the aisle to block access.
Fitzpatrick’s bipartisan-sponsored legislation [backed by four Democrats and four Republicans, and introduced on April 29] is called the Saracini Aviation Safety Act in honor of Victor Saracini, who was captain of United Flight 175, the Boeing 767 flown into the south tower of the World Trade Center in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Saracini’s widow, Ellen, became interested in the barrier topic when she learned that United Airlines is attempting to remove newly installed secondary barriers from all its Boeing 787s.
Without answering the question of why the barriers were being removed, a United spokesman told AIN that the proposed new rule will “affect all airlines.” An Airlines for America spokesman told AIN the association believes “the decision about whether to install secondary barriers should be left to individual carriers.”