Fitzpatrick wins inclusion of passenger aircraft protections in FAA reform bill

A final agreement reached between the U.S. Senate and House on major Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reforms includes safety protections originally introduced in bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

The House on Sept. 26 agreed to the Senate-amended FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, H.R. 302, which now contains a section similar to the Saracini Aviation Safety Act, H.R. 911, introduced last February by Rep. Fitzpatrick to require the installation of a secondary cockpit barrier on each new aircraft operating as a passenger air carrier in the United States. The measure was supported by a large number of Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), an original cosponsor.

“This bipartisan agreement is a major victory for airline safety. We will continue to fight alongside Ellen Saracini until all current passenger aircraft contain secondary barriers,” said the congressman, referring to the widow of fallen pilot Victor Saracini, who died on 9/11 when terrorists hijacked United Flight 175. H.R. 911 was named in Capt. Saracini’s honor.

“As our nation continues to combat the threat of terrorism, it is crucial that air travel frameworks are enhanced to keep our nation safe,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “Protecting the cockpits in our nation’s airplanes is critical in preventing commercial airliners from hijacking and deterring malicious actors around the globe.”

The lightweight wire-mesh gates would be installed between the passenger cabin and the cockpit door to block access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight, according to the lawmaker.

Sweeping FAA reforms contained in H.R. 302 also now include several other bills related to disaster recovery and emerging threats prevention, as well as a three-year reauthorization of the Transportation Security Administration, a four-year reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board, and supplemental appropriations for disaster relief, among other provisions, according to a statement released by Fitzpatrick’s office.

H.R. 302 now heads to the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by the president.