The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a rule that would require commercial aircraft to have a second physical cockpit barrier.

The barrier would be “deployed (closed and locked) whenever the flightdeck door is opened while the airplane is in flight”, says the rule, published on 27 July. The barrier would “impede unauthorised access to the flightdeck”.

737 Max cockpit-c-Max Kingsley-Jones

Source: Max Kingsley-Jones/FlightGlobal

FAA proposes secondary barrier to increase commercial cockpit safety

US Department of Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg calls the proposed barriers an “important step forward”.

“Each additional layer of safety matters,” adds FAA acting administrator Billy Nolen. “Protecting flight crews helps keep our system the safest in the world.”

The proposal would require aircraft manufacturers install second physical barriers on aircraft produced after the rule takes effect. It would apply only aircraft used for commercial passenger service in the USA, the US aviation regulator says.

Most commercial aircraft cockpits are currently secured by a single door that is locked during flight. A second barrier between the cockpit and the cabin could prevent a potential hijacker from storming the flightdeck when, for example, a pilot opens the door to use the lavatory.

Pilot union Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) welcomes the proposal, saying “progress is being made” in closing a security gap. ALPA president Joe DePete calls second flightdeck barriers the “most obvious” means of preventing incidents such as the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The FAA is accepting public comments about the rule for 60 days.