All foreign-registered air transport aircraft flying into the USA must be fitted with purpose-built reinforced cockpit doors by the same deadline facing US airlines - 9 April next year, says US transportation secretary Norman Mineta. This advances by six months the deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The rules also require temporary arrangements to secure flightdeck access, such as the reinforced locking systems adopted as interim arrangements by US carriers and already approved by the country's Federal Aviation Administration. These measures have to be implemented by the foreign carriers within 60 days.

Most non-US countries have accepted in principle or practice that hardened doors are necessary. Many of their airlines have already fitted interim security arrangements for cockpit access.

The US/UK bilateral aviation treaty says each country should react favourably to any "reasonable" demand for special security arrangements the other state makes.

European airlines seem unconcerned by the advancing of the compliance date. Virgin Atlantic, for example, is confident of meeting the new deadline, while Air France says 55 of its aircraft are already equipped with armoured cockpit doors.

Source: Flight International