WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) released the following statement Wednesday regarding the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s unanimous approval of airline safety language authored by Fitzpatrick to legislation governing the Federal Aviation Administration:
“As our nation continues to combat the threat of terrorism, it’s crucial that we not only prepare for the future, but learn from the past. Protecting the cockpit of our nation’s planes is the simplest, cheapest and most effective method to prevent airplanes from being turned into weapons of war by those who seek to do us harm. I’m grateful for the bipartisan action of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to move this common sense anti-terror measure one step closer to reality.”
Fitzpatrick, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, introduced the Saracini Aviation Safety Act [H.R. 911] earlier this year. The measure 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.
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.
“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 Saracini at the bill’s introduction.
The Saracini Aviation Safety Act was previously introduced in the 113th and 114th congresses and garnered widespread bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The bill is endorsed by 9/11 Commission Chair Tom Kean, former Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor Tom Ridge, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Allied Pilots Association (APA), the US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association (CAPA), the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), NY / NJ Port Authority, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) and 9/11 Families.