Secondary Barrier to Cockpit Door Needed, FLEOA Says; Door can be Breached, Video Shows
By: Anthony Kimery
In the wake of what it calls "the alarming air travel safety issues [that are] depicted in" a 23-second video (.mov file) showing that the cockpit door of a passenger plane can still be breached, "despite the current airline security procedures," the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) said it is urging lawmakers to pass the Saracini Aviation Safety Act of 2013.
The bill has languished in committees of the House and Senate since introduction in the two congressional chambers last year.
In the video, called "Two Seconds to Breach," FLEOA said "a cockpit breach occurs in quick succession," and noted that "The breach occurs during the moment the cockpit door is opened for crew to transit to or from the cockpit. A flight attendant and beverage cart placed as on obstacle poses no challenge for the would‐be hijackers" setting close to the front of the plane.
"This is not what was promised post‐9/11, nor what the American people deserve," the organization said Tuesday.
Pending in the House Subcommittee on Aviation, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the legislation would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator to issue an order that would require:
- Installation of secondary barriers, other than the cockpit door, to prevent access to the flight deck of each commercial aircraft;
- Barriers on an aircraft with a cockpit door remain locked while the aircraft is in flight and the cockpit door separating the flight deck and the passenger area is open; and
- Barriers on an aircraft without a cockpit door remain locked as determined by the pilot in command.
"This video makes clear that gaps in our airline security still exist, and we need to address this vulnerability," said FLEOA National President Jon Adler. "Putting our flight attendants in harm's way to repel trained homicidal maniacs is an unacceptable strategic failure."
"We need to remember that on September 11th, 2001, terrorists hijacked aircraft and used them a weapon of mass destruction to kill 2,873 Americans," Adler said, adding, "In its aftermath, we vowed as a nation to 'never forget,' yet it seems with distance, we are forgetting."
FLEOA said the organization "would hope this video prompts Congress to move forward on this commonsense legislation that would fulfill the promises those same officials made to the American people after the 9/11."
"With the lack of movement with this bill and decreased funding for our Federal Air Marshals (FAMS), the flying public is still at risk due to complacency," Adler concluded. "The 9/11 Commission cited a 'failure of imagination' as part of the reason 9/11/01 happened and yet some of our elected officials and those in the airline industry seem to be suffering from amnesia and not imagining that a breach could still happen."
The bill has stalled out largely because of industry trade groups who oppose the bill on the grounds that it will be cost prohibitive to install a secondary cockpit door barrier. In addition, according to Capitol Hill sources, congressional supporters of the groups opposing the bill set on committees with FAA and aviation security oversight authority.