Senators reintroduce Saracini Aviation Safety Act

Legislation for airplane safety named after Lower Makefield resident

By Tom Waring

The Times

To better protect passengers and pilots on airplanes, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey have reintroduced the Saracini Aviation Safety Act (S.911). Under this measure, all commercial aircraft would be required to install a secondary barrier, separate from the cockpit door, to prevent access to the flight deck of an aircraft.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey, PHOTO: Bob Casey

The legislation is named after a Lower Makefield resident, Victor Saracini, who piloted United Flight 175 when it was hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Ensuring that there are greater safeguards in place to better protect flight crews and passengers on commercial aircraft is common sense. Not only are secondary barriers inexpensive, but the only people who would be inconvenienced by them are terrorists,” Toomey said. “My thanks go out to the entire Saracini family, and most notably Ellen Saracini, who has led the fight to pass this bill. Now is the time for Congress to make our skies safer and pass the Saracini Aviation Safety Act.”

A secondary cockpit barrier is a lightweight wire-mesh gate installed between the passenger cabin and cockpit door that is locked into place and blocks access to the flight deck. In 2003, a voluntary airline industry movement toward adopting secondary barriers began, but deployment of the devices waned. A 2007 study conducted at the request of the Airline Pilots Association International and the airline industry concluded that secondary cockpit barrier doors are the most cost-effective, efficient and safest way to protect the cockpit.

Last year, Casey and Toomey were able to secure Senate approval of the Saracini Aviation Safety Act as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016. However, the provision was not included in the final version of the bill. ••