Two Decades after 9/11: Forging New Tools to Counter Threats

The past year has bore witness to a disturbing trend—the rise of the unruly passenger. While the causes are varied, the threat is clear and must be addressed.

Since its founding in 1931, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has been relentless in advancing aviation safety and security, but the events of 9/11 demonstrated the immediate need to shore up safety and security holes in our industry. Over the past two decades, this Association has been a leader in the development and implementation of critical security improvements including the Known Crewmember program, the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, antihijacking training, airport passenger screening requirements, and expansion of the terrorist “Watch” and “No Fly” lists, to name a few.

However, despite this progress—and especially in light of the growing trend of passenger outbursts—more needs to be done to protect the flight deck. As the United States expands efforts to educate passengers and enforce the law in response to disruptive passenger events, government officials must also do more to protect the flight deck from being breached.

The recent spike in unruly passenger events demonstrates the need for flightdeck secondary barriers, as ALPA president Capt. Joe DePete highlighted in a letter to Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), chair of the House Subcommittee on Aviation. For two decades, ALPA has advocated for the mandatory installation of these lightweight security devices on commercial aircraft. Secondary barriers have proven effective in creating a physical barricade to prevent hostile individuals from reaching the flight deck any time the flightdeck door is open during flight.

For months, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been talking about how it is cracking down on unruly passengers, yet it has failed to take the one action that would secure the flight deck and protect passengers and crew alike: Issue the final rule for secondary barriers as Congress directed in 2018.

Why is the FAA dragging its feet on this critical security issue?

Safety Cannot Wait: Make Your Voice Heard

As we continue to press the FAA to issue the final rule on secondary barriers for newly manufactured aircraft, even more must be done. We are also urging Congress to support new legislation that would mandate secondary barriers on all airliners.

Join us in this Call to Action to advance flight security.

Additionally, we are calling on Congress to immediately pass legislation that requires primary, hardened flightdeck doors on all-cargo aircraft. While hardened flightdeck doors have improved security on passenger aircraft, a glaring security gap remains with all-cargo operations, which have no such requirements for intrusion-resistant doors, despite the fact that non-crew passengers frequently travel with certain types of cargo. A bipartisan bill to close this gap was introduced in Congress in July 2021, but we need help getting support in Congress.

Join us in this Call to Action to secure the cargo flight deck.

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