Hardened doors may satisfy security rules, but manufacturer believes industry wants more

Boeing has responded to US Federal Aviation Administration security requirements with a package of measures which includes video surveillance of the flight deck entrance area and improved cockpit/cabin communications. Boeing's security proposals go well beyond the FAA's basic hardened door specification for control of access to the cockpit.

Meanwhile, greater detail of the Boeing hardened door design proposals for its own aircraft family have now been released and shown to a sample of the US domestic and international market to test customer reaction, says Boeing Airplane Services president Bob Avery. In the USA, airlines are required to have fitted an FAA certificated cockpit security door by 1 April 2003 - the measures so far put in place by US carriers are temporary solutions.

Boeing's ballistic-protected doors have full-length strengthened hinges, and the exposed surrounding bulkhead is also reinforced. On the widebodies the doors incorporate blow-out panels to cope with sudden depressurisation. The locks can be operated from the outside by a numeric keypad that the pilots can override, and they incorporate a rate-sensitive latch that will resist the sudden application of force. Crew safety in an emergency evacuation is protected by door anti-jamming features.

Actuation of the locks produces an aural and visual alert to the pilots, who can then check the identity of the person at the door and general activity in the vicinity of it by looking at the video images on a hand-held or panel-mounted display. One camera is mounted above the cockpit door and the other just aft of it in the ceiling, giving the pilots sight of the area within 2.4m (8ft) of the door.

Boeing's preferred suppliers of the equipment are Thales Avionics Inflight Systems and Japan-based JAMCO. The aircraft manufacturer says that the complete cockpit security system costs $90,000 for widebodies and $70,000 for narrowbodies, with the surveillance systems comprising respectively $50,000 and the $45,000 of the total.

Source: Flight International