FAA SETS STANDARDS FOR COCKPIT DOORS ON CARGO PLANES
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has given the airline industry 45 days to outfit cargo and passenger planes with cockpit doors with temporary internal locking devices.
This ruling, made Friday, falls under the Special Federal Aviation Rule (SFAR), which is concurrent with the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.
Beginning last October, the FAA issued a series of SFARs authorizing short-term door reinforcement by providing airlines and cargo operations with temporary relief from certain FAA standards. The major U.S. airlines voluntarily installed short-term fixes to doors on 4,000 planes in 32 days. The SFAR stated that a long-term fix that meets FAA requirements must be installed within 18 months.
“The FAA cut through red tape and the airlines fortified cockpit doors quickly following Sept. 11,” said FAA Administrator Jane Garvey. “I strongly encourage operators to move forward with the same determination to permanently strengthen and protect our nation’s fleet.”
The rule sets new design and performance standards for all current and future cargo planes that have cockpit doors, or commercial planes with 20 or more seats in commercial service.
Specifically, the rule:
* Requires strengthening of cockpit doors. 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. Additionally, the FAA ruling is using a standard sufficient to minimize penetration of shrapnel from small arms or a fragmentation device.
* Requires cockpit doors to remain locked with an internal locking device that can only be unlocked from inside the cockpit.
* Controls cockpit access privileges.
* Prohibits possession of keys to the cockpit by crew members not assigned to the cockpit.
Before Sept. 11, the FAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) were working to strengthen international security standards for airplanes. This ruling expedites the work of an Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC), a group that was assigned to develop harmonized security-related design provisions.
As announced by President Bush on Sept. 28, the FAA will administer a federal grant program to help the U.S. air cargo and air carrier industry fortify the cockpit doors. The FAA said funding may be provided through grants or cost-sharing arrangements, in conjunction with $100 million appropriated by Congress.
The FAA estimated the purchase and installation cost of an enhanced cockpit door at $12,000 to $17,000, with the total cost to airlines running from $92.3 million to $120.7 million over a 10-year period.
The final rule and SFAR are available on the Internet at: http://www.faa.gov/avr/arm/nprm.htm.