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January 11, 2002
Airline Pilots Applaud Cockpit-Door Standards, Commend FAA for Including Cargo and Small Airliners in Rule
Washington, D.C. -- The union representing most of the nation’s airline pilots today voiced its support for the final rule issued by the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the specific requirements for U.S. airlines to install more secure cockpit doors in their aircraft. The enhanced-security doors, to be installed no later than April 2003, will replace the stopgap measures -- deadbolts and crossbars on existing doors -- that the majority of airlines installed as interim protections.
The FAA also issued a separate rule change that makes mandatory these previously optional stopgap locks and bars on cockpit doors.
"We are gratified that our hard work and collaboration with other industry groups paid off," said Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International. "The FAA adopted virtually all of our recommendations, including requirements for cargo airliners."
"The first victory came in convincing the Congress and the Department of Transportation in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks that new, more secure cockpit-door standards should apply not only to new aircraft designs, but also to the existing fleet. The retrofit of all those airplanes is a major undertaking -- but a necessary one, given the new terrorist threat," Woerth said.
"As a member of DOT Secretary Mineta’s Rapid Response Team on aircraft security, I was able to take the recommendations of an industry group assembled by ALPA directly to the highest levels of government," Woerth said.
After the Rapid Response Teams submitted their reports to the Secretary of Transportation, ALPA continued its advocacy of enhanced air-travel security measures, including the more secure cockpit door, through its Air Security Task Force, a team of pilot and staff experts led by ALPA's first vice president, Capt. Dennis Dolan.
In comments formally filed with the FAA in response to the announcement of impending rulemaking on cockpit-door standards, the ALPA task force accepted a set of heightened construction and performance standards for the cockpit door that the FAA had developed in consultation with manufacturers, the airlines, ALPA and other industry groups. However, ALPA did not concur with parties that sought exclusions from the standards.
"Despite the opposition of some cargo carriers and operators of smaller commercial airliners, ALPA vehemently argued that those airlines also must install doors meeting the new specifications on applicable aircraft. Cargo airliners typically accommodate a few rows of occupant seats, and access to the ramp areas for cargo operations tends to be less restricted than that of passenger airlines. We urged adoption of the door standards as a safeguard against a terrorist attempting to pose as a cargo-airline employee, board a cargo airliner, seize the controls, and use the aircraft as a weapon against ground targets," Dolan said.
"In addition to concerns about cargo airliners, the smaller passenger airliners used in some operations still have the mass, speed, and fuel load to become devastating instruments of destruction if commandeered and used as weapons. ALPA has fought successfully to establish the principle of ‘one level of safety’ in aviation. After 9-11, we realized that the concept really has expanded to ‘One Level of Safety – One Level of Security,’" Dolan said.
"We thank the FAA for hearing our concerns and incorporating them into its rulemaking document," he said. "Meanwhile, we're making good progress toward the adoption of similar cockpit-door standards and requirements north of the border. Our discussions with Transport Canada have been constructive, and we have high hopes for Canada's rulemaking on this matter, which will come out in the fairly near future," Dolan added.
ALPA is the world's largest and oldest pilots union. Representing roughly 66,000 pilots flying for 46 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, ALPA is celebrating 70 years of advancing the cause of air safety and upholding the airline piloting profession.
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ALPA Contact: John Mazor, (703) 481-4440