ATR has sold more than 100 of its new secure cockpit-door kits, although they will not be available for installation until November.

The Franco-Italian regional aircraft manufacturer says American Eagle, Finnair, Jet Airways in India and Trans States Airlines were the first customers, adding that the kit should be certificated in September after qualification tests are completed.

The door and associated system, which can be installed during overnight maintenance, is priced at $18,500. An optional surveillance camera adds a further $13,000 to the bill, says ATR.

Carmine Orsi, vice-president engineering at ATR, says there were two conflicting aspects to developing a secure door. It must prevent cockpit incursion and provide anti-ballistic protection, while ensuring that in an emergency (for example, pilot incapacitation or an accident) the flightcrew could still be rescued.

"We think we can offer answers to both these questions," Orsi says, using two distinct procedures: a normal one and an emergency one. In the normal procedure - taking food to the pilots, for example - the flight attendant rings a bell and speaks over an interphone. The pilots have a peephole with a wide field of vision enabling them to check who is outside the door before deciding whether to open it.

In the emergency procedure, if there is no pilot response to the bell and interphone, the flight attendant can set the emergency mode which sends a message (visual and audio) to the cockpit.

The door will then open automatically for a few moments, and the pilots can stop this procedure at any time from inside the cockpit.

Source: Flight International