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Bill would require cockpit barriers

The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act of 2021 is named in memory of a Lower Makefield resident who was killed after his plane was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1st dist.) reintroduced legislation designed to protect the safety of American citizens, by requiring the installation of secondary cockpit barriers on all commercial passenger aircraft to prevent terrorist attacks similar to 9/11.

The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act of 2021 [H.R. 911] mandates the installation of inexpensive, lightweight, wire-mesh gates between the passenger cabin and cockpit door, blocking access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight, on all existing aircraft. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey plan to reintroduce the companion bill in the Senate. The bill has also been endorsed by the Air Line Pilots Association.

This legislation is named in memory of Capt. Victor J. Saracini, a Lower Makefield resident who was killed after his plane was hijacked and deliberately flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Following the 9/11 attacks, Saracini’s widow, Ellen, became a national advocate for aviation safety.

“It is unacceptable that nearly 20 years after terrorists breached the cockpit of my husband’s airplane on Sept. 11, 2011, our skies are still susceptible to repeat this act of terrorism. It is my mission to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the flight deck aboard our nation’s airliners because, without secondary barriers, we are just as vulnerable today, as we were on that fateful day,” Saracini said. “We need to call on the FAA to act swiftly on legislation that was passed in 2019 to implement a secondary barrier on newly manufactured aircraft for delivery. I’m pleased that a bipartisan group of leaders in the 117th Congress is wasting no time to address retrofitting the remaining aircraft with secondary barriers and continue protecting all who travel in the skies above us.”

Fitzpatrick previously introduced similar legislation, the Saracini Aviation Act. Elements of its language were included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 as an amendment and signed into law by President Donald Trump. That amendment required all newly manufactured aircraft to install a secondary barrier. The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act will require all existing passenger aircraft to retrofit a secondary barrier, ensuring that current aircraft fleets are held to the same safety standard as newly manufactured aircraft.

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