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Bill would improve existing law by requiring secondary barriers to cockpits on all passenger airplanes, not only new planes

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act (S.911) to enhance protections that make airplanes less susceptible to hijacking. Provisions of Casey’s Saracini Aviation Act were enacted in 2018 and required the installation of a secondary barrier between the passenger cabin and cockpit door on each new aircraft purchased in the United States. This enhanced legislation—named after Bucks County resident, Captain Victor Saracini, who piloted United Flight 175 when it was hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001—would mandate installation of a such a barrier between cabin and cockpit on all passenger planes in the United States, not only new ones. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5), André Carson (D-IN-7), Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), Tom Kean Jr. (R-NJ-7), and Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-8).

“We have more work to do to make air travel safer for pilots, passengers, and crew members,” said Senator Casey. “The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act will prevent future attacks by bolstering cockpit protections in all passenger planes. I will continue working alongside Ellen Saracini to honor Captain Saracini by keeping airline passengers and pilots safe in our skies.” 

“Securing the safety of our nation’s aviation is critical to keeping our nation safe. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Congress has made great progress on aircraft safety, and this bipartisan legislation is essential to ensure passenger safety in the air and that passengers and pilots are protected against terrorist hijackers,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I’m grateful to stand with my constituent, Ellen Saracini, to honor her late husband, and I appreciate the support of my colleagues. Together, we must do everything in our power to ensure that the horrific events of 9/11 are never able to happen again.”

“We must secure our skies and protect our passengers and flight crews from acts of terrorism like the one my husband faced on September 11, 2001,” Ellen Saracini said. “Since that day, I have made it my mission to ensure that our country is doing everything it can to implement better safeguards aboard aircraft. As it stands today, passenger planes are not equipped to adequately protect the flight deck. Installing secondary barriers on all commercial airplanes will protect the cockpit and ensure there will never be a repeat of that tragic day. I strongly urge our elected officials to support the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act.”

“For more than 20 years, airline pilots have been committed in ensuring that the legacy of all who lost their lives or were harmed on September 11, 2001, is that of a safer and more secure U.S. air transportation system. ALPA has long supported the use of secondary barriers and are grateful to Senator Casey for honoring Capt. Saracini’s memory,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA President. “Installing secondary barriers on all passenger aircraft is a long overdue, cost-effective way to preserve the integrity of the flightdeck and keep crews and passengers safe.”

In 2019, Senator Casey and former Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao, urging DOT to strictly enforce their legislation. The Senators pushed back against voices in the airline industry that had argued that the Saracini Aviation Act only applied to new “models” of aircraft, when in fact the legislation mandates that secondary barriers be installed on all new aircrafts for commercial passenger air carriers in the United States, not just new types, or models, of aircraft. Data shows that secondary barriers significantly decrease the threat of hijackings.