WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) joined the U.S. House of Representatives Friday in advancing airline safety language attached to legislation governing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act [H.R. 4] includes language similar to Fitzpatrick’s Saracini Aviation Safety Act [H.R. 911] and mandates the installation of secondary barriers on new passenger aircraft.
“As our nation continues to combat the threat of terrorism, it is crucial that we learn from the past in our mission to keep our nation safe. Protecting the cockpits in our nation’s airplanes is critical in preventing commercial airliners from being turned into weapons of war,” said Fitzpatrick. “Today, the House took a key step forward by requiring the installation of secondary cockpit barriers on all new passenger aircraft. While this is a major victory for airline safety, we will continue to fight until all current passenger aircraft contain secondary barriers.”
Fitzpatrick, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, introduced the Saracini Aviation Safety Act 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.
“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 work with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick 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 Ellen Saracini, present for the vote in the House Gallery. “I am pleased that Congressman Fitzpatrick and the House have taken sensible precautions to make our skies safer. Our mission will now expand to ensure that ALL commercial airliners contain secondary barriers. We will not stop fighting until this is achieved.”
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.