Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act Introduced to Prevent Airplane Hijacking
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act (S.911) to strengthen legislation that would make airplanes less susceptible to hijacking. The legislation is named after a 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. Provisions of the 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 bill would mandate that secondary barriers be applied to all passenger airplanes, not only newly manufactured planes. U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05), André Carson (D-IN-07) and Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“The Saracini Aviation Act made air transportation safer for all pilots and passengers,” said Senator Casey. “This ‘enhanced’ version of that legislation is an important step in preventing future disasters by protecting pilots’ cockpit doors during flights in all passenger airplanes. Secondary barriers have been shown to significantly decrease the threat of a hostile takeover of the cockpit. Congress must take up this legislation to step up security in commercial travel and prevent potential hijacking.”
“On September 11, 2001, Bucks County native Captain Victor Saracini was piloting United Flight 175 when a group of terrorists hijacked the flight and flew it into the World Trade Center. With the help of Captain Saracini’s wife, Ellen, we enacted legislation requiring secondary barriers to be installed on all new commercial passenger aircraft. But the barriers can’t help protect all commercial travelers if they are not required for commercial aircraft already operating. That is why this legislation requires secondary barriers to be installed on all commercial passenger aircraft – whether new or currently operating. I am grateful for Ellen Saracini’s tireless work to advance this legislation, and am proud to work with Senator Casey in honoring Captain Saracini and protecting the traveling public,” said Senator Toomey.
“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s aircraft is paramount to protecting the American public. Congress previously made progress in ensuring that all future commercial aircraft are equipped with secondary barriers, so we must build on that momentum in this 117th Congress and include the same requirement for all existing commercial passenger aircraft,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to stand with my constituent, Ellen Saracini, along with Senators Casey and Toomey and Representatives Gottheimer, Carson, and Smith as we continue our fight to ensure that the devastating horrors of 9/11 never happen again.”
In 2019, Senators Casey and Toomey sent a letter to 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.