Washington, D.C.— Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), André Carson (IN-07), and Peter King (NY-02) have introduced legislation to protect the safety of American citizens by requiring the installation of secondary cockpits barriers on most commercial aircraft to prevent terrorist attacks similar to 9/11. The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act of 2019 [H.R. 911] mandates inexpensive, lightweight wire-mesh gates to be installed on existing aircraft between the passenger cabin and the cockpit door that would block access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight.
This legislation is named in honor of Captain Victor J. Saracini, who was killed after his plane was hijacked and deliberately flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. His widow, Ellen, has become a national advocate for aviation safety following the 9/11 attacks.
“It is unacceptable that, more than 17 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 fateful day,” said Saracini. “We need to call on the FAA to act swiftly on legislation passed last congress to implement a secondary barrier on newly manufactured aircraft for delivery. I’m pleased that a bipartisan group of leaders in the 116th Congress are wasting no time to address retrofitting the remaining aircraft with secondary barriers and continue protecting all who travel in the skies above us.”
Despite measurable improvements in global aviation safety in 9/11, the threat of hijacking still remains. 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.
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick: “Ensuring the safety of our nation’s aircraft is paramount to protecting the American public. The previous Congress made progress in ensuring that future commercial aircraft are equipped with secondary barriers, and we must build on that momentum to include existing commercial aircraft. I am proud to stand with my constituent, Ellen Saracini, along with Representatives Gottheimer, Carson, and King in working to make sure the horrors of September 11th do not reoccur.”
- Rep. Josh Gottheimer: "Securing the safety of our skies is absolutely critical to preventing another terrorist attack like 9/11. I was proud to cosponsor bipartisan legislation last Congress requiring secondary barriers on new commercial aircraft to help stop terrorists on airplanes. Now that it’s law, we need to go a step further to protect our country by requiring all commercial aircraft to have secondary cockpit barriers. We must do everything we can to prevent all terror attacks on our country, and that includes in our skies."
- Rep. André Carson: “After successfully enacting legislation mandating secondary cockpit barriers last year, I am pleased to join my colleagues in reintroducing the more expansive H.R. 911, the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act. This enhanced bill will ensure that all commercial aircraft are equipped with a barrier to protect the flight crew and passengers when the cockpit is opened during flight. This is a critical next step, ensuring that all passengers, no matter which plane they fly on, are protected against cockpit incursions. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this security gap and make certain American skies remain the safest in the world.”
- Rep. Peter King: “We must do all that we can to ensure the attacks of September 11th are never repeated. I am proud to cosponsor this measure which will go a long way to protecting not only the pilots and flight crews but the passengers as well.”
Congressman Fitzpatrick introduced similar legislation, the Saracini Aviation Act. Elements of its language were included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 as an amendment and signed into law. That amendment required all new manufactured aircraft to install a secondary barrier. The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act would require all existing aircraft to retrofit a secondary barrier so that current aircraft fleets are held to the same standard of safety as newly manufactured aircraft.