The Federal Aviation Administration has passed a new rule that will require all airlines to install a secondary cockpit barrier on all of their new airplanes.
As part of a press release sent on Wednesday, the FAA said it would mandate that this secondary barrier be installed on the flight deck of every new commercial airplane as a way to enhance the safety measures it has.
The agency said that the rule would protect the flight decks from potential intrusions any time that the door to the flight deck is open.
Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, was quoted in the release as saying:
“Every day, pilots and flight crews transport millions of Americans safely – and today we are taking another important step to make sure they have the physical protections they deserve.”
Labor partners and aircraft manufacturers issued recommendations to the FAA last year, which led to the agency proposing this rule then. It has taken a few months for the FAA to officially announce that the rule was going into place.
The FAA held an event to announce the new rule. At that event, the Air Line Pilots Association’s president, Jason Ambrosi, said the U.S. responded to the attacks of 9/11 with various measures that would prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. However, he added that the country never required that secondary barriers be installed on airplanes.
He further explained that the barriers are a “proven effective” barricade that ultimately prevents individuals who might be dangerous from making their way into the cockpit while a flight is in the air.
As Ambrosi said:
“This added layer of security will help me and my fellow pilots focus on the most important part of our job, the safe operation of every flight to ensure our aviation system remains the gold standard of safety.”
During a flight, there are times when the door that leads to the flight deck has to be open, according to Bill Cason, who serves as the Coalition for Airline Pilots Associations’ director of security. That includes times when meal service is going on and when crews have to make transitions.
What this does, though, is create a vulnerability on aircraft. Cason explained that a coordinated and well-thought-out attack on an airplane could result in someone making their way inside the flight deck in three seconds or less after the door is opened.
That’s why he is in favor of this secondary barrier. Cason said of the barrier:
“It’s a cost-effective, scalable security enhancement for our air domain.”
The new FAA rule will go into effect within 60 days of when it was first published, which was on the same day that it was publicly announced. However, airlines won’t be forced to comply with this new requirement until 2025.
That being said, Polly Trottenberg, who serves as the acting administrator of the FAA, hopes that the airlines would start making changes well ahead of that deadline.
She said of the airlines:
“If they’re taking a plan for delivery right now, there’s no reason it should not come with a secondary barrier.”