Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators have re-introduced an air travel safety bill named after a Bucks County pilot killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The Saracini Aviation Safety Act calls for the installation of a secondary barrier to the cockpit on commercial carriers.
"Ensuring that there are greater safeguards in place to better protect flight crews and passengers on commercial aircraft is commonsense," said Sen. Pat Toomey, who co-sponsored the bill introduced by Sen. Bob Casey. "Not only are secondary barriers inexpensive, but the only people who would be inconvenienced by them are terrorists."
The legislation, introduced last month, is named after Victor Saracini, of Lower Makefield, the captain piloting United Flight 175 when it was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. A secondary barrier made of a lightweight wire-mesh would add another level of security to the heavily reinforced cockpit door, according to a statement from Casey's office. The barrier would be installed between the passenger cabin and cockpit door.
"We've made progress on airline safety since Sept. 11, 2001, but there are still additional commonsense steps we can take to better protect passengers and flight crew," Casey said in the statement. "I'm urging Congress to pass this measure and make further improvements to airline safety."
Casey and Toomey attempted to get the bill passed last year as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016, but the language was not included in the final draft. This year's Senate bill is a companion to legislation introduced in February by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, of Middletown, and co-sponsored by 30 representatives from both political parties.
Fitzpatrick's brother, former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, tried but failed to get a similar bill passed two years ago.
"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," Brian Fitzpatrick said when he introduced the bill. "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." Fitzpatrick's district includes all of Bucks County and part of Montgomery County.
The Senate bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The House version is sitting in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Aviation.