US Authorities to Require Additional Barrier on Airline Planes for Enhanced Security
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Wednesday that new airline planes will be required to have a secondary barrier to prevent unauthorized access to the cabin when the front door is open. This new norm will be applicable to commercial aircraft manufactured after mid-2025, aiming to enhance passenger safety and protect pilots from potential intruders.
Enhanced Security Measures on New Airlines Planes
The newly imposed rule by the FAA will primarily impact airlines that operate regular flights but will not affect charter flight operators. The regulation, however, does not mandate retrofitting existing aircraft, limiting its applicability to newly manufactured airplanes. The authorities stress the importance of implementing this new measure in order to eliminate concerns and provide a higher level of security for pilots.
Strengthening the Cockpit Security
David Boulter, the FAA’s acting deputy administrator for safety, emphasized the significance of the secondary barrier, stating, “No pilot should have to worry about a flight deck intrusion.” The vulnerability of the cockpit becomes prominent when pilots open the door for routine tasks such as using the bathroom or having a meal. The introduction of a secondary barrier aims to slow down potential attackers long enough for the flight deck door to be closed and locked, preventing unauthorized access to the cockpit.
Costs and Implementation
Each secondary barrier installation is estimated to cost around $35,000 by the FAA. This directive stems from a 2018 congressional requirement for secondary barriers on cockpit doors, although a formal proposal was not issued until August of last year, following recommendations from aircraft manufacturers and pilot groups. While pilot unions advocate for extending this requirement to all airline planes, including older models, airlines and trade groups argue that current security measures are adequate.
Debate Over Applicability and Timeframe
Airlines for America and United Airlines contend that secondary barriers should only be required for future aircraft designs, exempting FAA-approved models such as the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320, even if they are built after mid-2025. However, the FAA strongly asserts that the requirement should be applicable to all new aircraft. Furthermore, the FAA proposes a two-year timeframe for compliance, aligning with the limited time aircraft manufacturers had to reinforce cabin doors following the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Voluntary Adoption and Future Outlook
Delta Airlines and United have voluntarily added secondary barriers to some of their aircraft, demonstrating proactive commitment to enhance security measures. The FAA’s decision serves as a critical step in fortifying airline safety and protecting pilots and passengers alike.