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Allied Pilots Association: “Secondary Cockpit Barriers for All Commercial Airliners are Vital”

FORT WORTH, Texas (March 1, 2021) – The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, spoke out forcefully in support of the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act of 2021 (H.R. 911).

“Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, aviation security has been greatly enhanced through hardened cockpit doors and a host of revised procedures, but our nation’s commercial airliners nevertheless remain vulnerable to a cockpit breach by those who would do us harm,” said Capt. Eric Ferguson, President of the Allied Pilots Association. “That’s totally unacceptable. Fortunately, there is a solution: inexpensive, lightweight, wire-mesh gates between the cabin and cockpit door to block access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight.”

The 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act included a provision that would require the installation of secondary cockpit barriers in all newly manufactured aircraft, which Ferguson characterized as “a half-measure.” The FAA has not yet moved to implement the requirement.

“We cannot tolerate a situation in which would-be terrorists simply have to determine what type of aircraft is operating a particular flight to know whether they would encounter a secondary cockpit barrier — and that’s assuming the watered-down requirement gets implemented at some point,” Ferguson said. “That kind of half-measure will do very little to thwart another 9/11-type attack. We need a comprehensive solution now, which is what the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act would provide.”

The bipartisan bill is sponsored by U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), André Carson (IN-07), and Chris Smith (NJ-04). It is named in honor of Captain Victor J. Saracini, who was pilot-in-command of United Flight 175 when it was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Captain Saracini’s widow, Ellen, has since become a national advocate for aviation safety. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have indicated they plan to reintroduce the companion bill in the Senate.

“Secondary cockpit barriers for all commercial airliners are vital, whether they carry passengers or cargo, and we want to express our gratitude to Representatives Fitzpatrick, Gottheimer, Carson, and Smith for sponsoring this important legislation,” Ferguson said. “We urge Congress to approve it swiftly for the sake of all concerned.”

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is AlliedPilots.org.

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