Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05) announced that he introduced bipartisan legislation to protect Americans from 9/11-style terror attacks by requiring the installation of secondary cockpit barriers on most commercial aircraft.
“Keeping our nation safe must be our top priority, especially as we face threats from terrorists at home and abroad,” said Gottheimer. “This common sense bill will better protect our flight crews and passengers from terrorist threats.”
The Saracini Aviation Safety Act [H.R. 911] mandates inexpensive, light weight wire-mesh gates to be installed between the passenger cabin and the cockpit door that would block access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight for pilots’ meals, restroom use, and other reasons. It 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, has been a leading advocate on the issue since her husband’s death.
“It is unacceptable that, more than 15 years after terrorists breached the cockpit of my husband’s airplane on September 11, 2001, our skies are still susceptible to repeat this act of terrorism. It is my mission 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 day,” said Ellen Saracini. “I’m pleased that a bipartisan group of leaders in the 115th Congress are wasting no time to address the important issue of secondary barriers and begin protecting in the skies above us.”
Since 2001, there have been at least 43 hijacking attempts around the world, five of which were successful. A study commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration and industry stakeholders concluded the vulnerability of the flight deck is real during door transition and that secondary barriers are safe, cost-effective ($5,000-$12,000 per aircraft), and the most efficient way to protect the cockpit.
The other Members who joined with Gottheimer to introduce this bill on a bipartisan basis are Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), André Carson (IN-07), and Peter King (NY-02).