Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced that their amendment to the Federal Aviation Act that would further protect passengers and pilots on airplanes passed by a voice vote in the Senate. The Saracini Aviation Act of 2016 would require each new commercial aircraft to install a barrier, other than the cockpit door, to prevent access to the flight deck of an aircraft. The legislation is 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. While cockpit doors are currently reinforced, a secondary barrier will protect passengers and crew during times in flights when cockpit doors are opened.
“I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate have passed this amendment to make further improvements to airline safety. While we have made progress on airline safety in the years since September 11th 2001, this amendment is an additional step we can take better protect passengers and flight crew,” Senator Casey said. “There’s no way to fully and completely honor the extraordinary courage of Captain Saracini. He gave the full measure of his life for our nation, and his wife, Ellen, and their family have worked tirelessly in the years since to increase airline safety.”
“Today’s passage of our bipartisan amendment is a huge step forward toward protecting our nation’s airline crews and the traveling public from terrorists. I have long believed that secondary barriers should be installed on commercial aircraft to prevent terrorists from entering the cockpit, as we saw during the September 11th attacks. These barriers are an inexpensive, reasonable way to make our commercial airplanes safer. I also want to commend Ellen Saracini, of Bucks County, for her passionate advocacy for secondary barriers. Without her efforts, this bipartisan proposal would not have passed,” Senator Toomey said.
A secondary cockpit barrier is a light weight wire-mesh gate installed between the passenger cabin and cockpit door that is locked into place and blocks access to the flight deck. In 2003, a voluntary airline industry movement toward adopting secondary barriers began, but deployment of the devices waned. The barriers provide significantly more security to airline companies, their employees, and passengers. A 2007 study conducted at the request of the Airline Pilots Association International and the airline industry concluded that secondary cockpit barrier doors are the most cost-effective, efficient, and safest way to protect the cockpit.