For Immediate Release

Release No. APA 01-02
January 11, 2002
Contact: Alison Duquette
Phone: 202-267-3462


WASHINGTON, DC — In response to President Bush's call to strengthen aircraft security, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today published new standards to protect cockpits from intrusion and small arms fire or fragmentation devices, such as grenades. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act authorizes the FAA to issue today's final rule that requires operators of more than 6,000 airplanes to install reinforced doors by April 9, 2003.

Concurrent with the rule, the FAA is also issuing a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) to require operators to install temporary internal locking devices within 45 days on all passenger airplanes and cargo airplanes that have cockpit doors. Beginning on Oct. 17, the FAA issued a series of SFARs that authorized short-term door reinforcement by providing airlines and cargo operators with temporary relief from certain FAA standards. The major U.S. airlines voluntarily installed short-term fixes to doors on 4,000 aircraft in 32 days. The SFAR stated that a long-term fix that meets FAA requirements must be installed within 18 months.

"Fortifying cockpit doors is a critical part of assuring the safety and security of our aviation system," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. "As we move forward, the Department of Transportation will continue to meet the challenges of protecting our nation's travelers and transportation infrastructure."

"The FAA cut through red tape and the airlines fortified cockpit doors quickly following Sept. 11," said FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey. "I strongly encourage operators to move forward with the same determination to permanently strengthen and protect our nation's fleet."

The FAA rule sets new design and performance standards for all current and future airplanes with 20 or more seats in commercial service and all cargo airplanes that have cockpit doors. Specifically, the rule:

  • Requires strengthening of cockpit doors. The doors will be designed to resist intrusion by a person who attempts to enter using physical force. This includes the door, its means of attachment to the surrounding structure, and the attachment structure on the bulkhead itself. The FAA rule uses an impact standard that is 50 percent higher than the standard developed by the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. In addition to intrusion protection, the FAA is using a standard sufficient to minimize penetration of shrapnel from small arms fire or a fragmentation device. The agency is providing guidance to operators on acceptable materials. All new doors must meet existing FAA safety requirements.
  • Requires cockpit doors to remain locked. The door will be designed to prevent passengers from opening it without the pilot's permission. An internal locking device will be designed so that it can only be unlocked from inside the cockpit.
  • Controls cockpit access privileges. Operators must develop a more stringent approval process and better identification procedures to ensure proper identification of a jump seat rider.
  • Prohibits possession of keys to the cockpit by crewmembers not assigned to the cockpit.

Prior to Sept. 11, the FAA was working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to strengthen international security standards for airplanes. Today's rule expedites the work of an Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) working group that was tasked to develop harmonized security-related design provisions, including protection of the cockpit. The FAA encourages foreign civil aviation authorities to review the FAA's new rule and adopt comparable standards.

As announced by the President on Sept. 28, the FAA will administer a federal grant program to help the U.S. airline and cargo industry finance aircraft modifications to fortify cockpit doors, alert the cockpit crew to activity in the cabin and ensure continuous operation of the aircraft transponder. Funding may be provided through grants or cost sharing arrangements. The President requested $300 million from Congress to help fund these initiatives. Congress appropriated $100 million.

Once the designs are ready and approved by the FAA, the agency believes that airlines will have an opportunity to install the doors during routine maintenance checks. The purchase and installation cost of an enhanced cockpit door is estimated at between $12,000 and $17,000. The total cost to airlines is estimated to cost between $92.3 million and $120.7 million over a 10-year period, including increased fuel consumption costs resulting from heavier doors.

The final rule and SFAR are available on the FAA's web site at www.faa.gov/avr/arm/nprm.htm.

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