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Rep. Carson Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Airplane Passengers and Flight Crew from Terror Attacks

Feb 9, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Representatives André Carson (IN-07), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), and Chris Smith (NJ-04), reintroduced legislation to protect the safety of American citizens, by requiring the installation of secondary cockpit barriers on all commercial passenger aircraft to prevent terrorist attacks similar to 9/11.  

The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act of 2021 (H.R. 911) mandates the installation of inexpensive, lightweight, wire-mesh gates between the passenger cabin and cockpit door, blocking access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight, on all existing aircraft. Pennsylvanian Senators Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) plan to reintroduce the companion bill in the Senate. The bill has also been endorsed by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). 

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. Following the 9/11 attacks, Captain Saracini’s widow, Ellen, has become a national advocate for aviation safety.  

“I am honored to join my colleagues in reintroducing this bipartisan legislation to protect airline employees and passengers from unthinkable danger. It has been nearly 20 years since the deadly September 11th terrorist attacks, but there still has not been enough done to ensure this type of tragedy never happens again. Installing secondary cockpit barriers is a common-sense and effective safeguard against a similar attack. I want to thank all my colleagues for working with me on this bill, as well as Ellen Saracini, who has turned her personal pain and loss into bold action to honor the fallen on 9/11 and help save lives,” said Rep. Carson. 

“It is unacceptable that nearly 20 years after terrorists breached the cockpit of my husband’s airplane on September 11, 2011, 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 that was passed in 2019 to implement a secondary barrier on newly manufactured aircraft for delivery. I’m pleased that a bipartisan group of leaders in the 117th Congress is wasting no time to address retrofitting the remaining aircraft with secondary barriers and continue protecting all who travel in the skies above us.” 

Despite significant, measurable improvements in global aviation safety since 9/11, the threat of hijacking remains. A study commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other industry stakeholders determined that during transition, the flight deck door has real vulnerability and that a secondary barrier is the safest, most cost-effective ($5,000-$12,000 per aircraft), and most efficient way to protect the cockpit. 

“ALPA has long supported the use of secondary barriers to preserve the integrity of the flightdeck and keep crews and passengers safe. We are grateful to Reps. Carson, Fitzpatrick, Gottheimer, and Smith for their leadership and dedication to enhancing aviation safety and security by ensuring that these cost-effective devices are retroactively installed on all passenger aircraft,” said Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA President. 

CongressmeCarson and Fitzpatrick introduced similar legislation last session, the Saracini Aviation Act. Rep. Carson’s related amendment language was approved by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 and signed into law. That amendment required all newly manufactured aircraft to install a secondary barrier. The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act will require all existing passenger aircraft to retrofit a secondary barrier, ensuring that current aircraft fleets are held to the same safety standard as newly manufactured aircraft.