Fighting Terror: Bipartisan Saracini Aviation Safety Act Passes House, Heads to Senate

Sep 28, 2018

New Passenger Aircraft Required to Have Secondary Barriers, a Key 9/11 Commission Recommendation

Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined the U.S. House Wednesday in advancing legislation requiring the installation of secondary barriers on new passenger aircraft.

House and Senate leaders reached a bipartisan final agreement on legislation providing long-term stability and critical reforms to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The agreement, which passed the House today, includes Sec. 336- “Saracini Aviation Safety Act of 2018,” which requires the installation of a secondary cockpit barrier on each new aircraft operating as a passenger air carrier in the United States.

“As our nation continues to combat the threat of terrorism, it is crucial that air travel frameworks are enhanced to keep our nation safe. Protecting the cockpits in our nation’s airplanes is critical in preventing commercial airliners from hijacking and deterring malicious actors around the globe,” said Fitzpatrick. “This bipartisan agreement is a major victory for airline safety. We will continue to fight alongside Ellen Saracini until all current passenger aircraft contain secondary barriers.”

“On 9/11, terrorists counted on being able to rush and breach the cockpit knowing that the doors would be opened early in the flight. And they did. And until today, that flight deck remained vulnerable when the cockpit had to open,” said Gottheimer. “On Wednesday, the House passed Ellen Saracini’s bipartisan bill helping prevent another tragedy like 9/11 from ever occurring again and I’m proud to get it done alongside Congressman Fitzpatrick.”

It is similar to Fitzpatrick’s Saracini Aviation Safety Act of 2017 [H.R. 911], which mandates the installation of secondary barriers on all passenger aircraft.

These inexpensive, light weight wire-mesh gates would be installed between the passenger cabin and the cockpit door to block access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight for pilots’ meals, restroom use, and other reasons.

The legislation is named in honor of pilot Captain Victor J. Saracini, who was killed when terrorists hijacked United Flight 175 on September 11, 2001. Saracini’s widow, Ellen, is a leading advocate on the issue since her husband’s death.

“More than 15 years after terrorists breached the cockpit of my husband’s airplane on September 11, 2001, our skies are still susceptible to similar acts of terrorism. It is my mission to work with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the flight deck aboard our nation’s airliners because, without secondary barriers, we are just as vulnerable today as we were on that fateful day,” said Ellen Saracini. “I am pleased that Congressman Fitzpatrick and the House have taken sensible precautions to make our skies safer. Our mission will now expand to ensure that ALL commercial airliners contain secondary barriers. We will not stop fighting until this is achieved.”

The announced agreement, an amendment to H.R. 302, includes the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, a three-year reauthorization of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and a four year reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board. Also included in H.R. 302 are sports medicine licensure legislation, the BUILD Act of 2018, a requirement for an assessment of the situation in Syria, the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018, and supplemental appropriations for disaster relief.

This bill now heads to the Senate and it is expected to be signed by the President.

Last month, Congressmen Fitzpatrick and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) demanded that Congress pass H.R. 911 with Ellen Saracini at the Garden of Reflection 9/11 Memorial in Bucks County.

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