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Carson speaks in support of his secondary cockpit barriers amendment, May 27, 2017

Jun 27, 2017
Statements for the Record

Statement of Rep. André Carson
Full Committee Markup of FAA Reauthorization, HR 2997
Support of Carson/Nadler Amendment #13


Mr. Chairman, this amendment was approved unanimously by our committee last year, but unfortunately, it was not included in the final version of the bill.  So I’m pleased to offer the Carson/Nadler amendment today with the gentleman from New York.  Mr. Nadler’s district was deeply impacted by the 9/11 attacks and I’m proud that he’s joined me in offering this amendment.   The Carson/Nadler amendment will improve flight safety by requiring the installation of secondary cockpit barriers on new passenger airplanes.

The Federal Aviation Administration has required cockpit doors to be heavily fortified since 2001. However, there are no barriers in place to protect the flight deck when pilots open the door to use the bathroom or stretch their legs while they’re on duty. This leaves the flight deck vulnerable and pilots defenseless to potential attackers looking to seize control of the plane.

Unfortunately, Americans continue to be susceptible to terrorist attacks. Since 2001, there have been at least 43 hijacking attempts around the world since, 5 of which were successful.  Just last month, someone attempted to breach the cockpit of a U.S. flight from LAX to Hawaii, but thank God, they were not successful.

The Department of Transportation Inspector General’s report on secondary cockpit barriers will be released soon.  I hoped to get a copy of this report before today’s markup, but it’s my understanding that selected staff  have been briefed on new report and the findings are important. They show that current crew training and tactics are not adequate.  But secondary barriers are very effective in keeping cockpits safe when the door needs to be opened during flight.

Installing secondary cockpit barriers provides a cost-effective, efficient, and safe solution to an issue that is dear to our hearts; protecting the flight deck. It ensures the protection of the flight crew and passengers. And, the general public will have peace of mind to know that sensible precautions have been taken to ensure their safety. As a former law enforcement officer, I can tell you that having a back-up plan in place can save lives.  We owe the flying public this extra protection.

Colleagues, for those of you who are wondering, this amendment language is similar to H.R. 911, the bipartisan Saracini Aviation Safety Act, which I was proud to join Rep. Fitzpatrick in re-introducing, and which many T&I members have already cosponsored.  However, today’s amendment only applies to new passenger aircraft and does not apply retroactively or require retrofits.  This amendment is supported by Mrs. Saracini, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Association of Flight Attendants, and other aviation workers.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and I yield back the balance of my time.