An additional fence between the cabin and the cockpit will prevent unauthorized entry when the cockpit door is open — for example, when pilots go out to use the restroom, or when food or drinks are delivered to them.
The new rules will require manufacturers to install a protective structure on all commercial aircraft produced two years after approval. The regulation will become effective after a 60-day public comment and signing period.
The first attempts to establish additional protection were made earlier. Back in 2007, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued a safety procedure manual for opening the main cockpit door.
After the September 11 attacks, the FAA required doors to be reinforced and secured; the administration has put in place strict rules to ensure that the door is always locked — except when the pilot needs to exit or the flight crew needs to enter.
Even though the cockpit door is only open for a few moments during flight, those seconds create a risk of unauthorized entry. Flight crews often use ad hoc solutions, such as using food and drink carts or other items, blocking passage for this time and blocking space in the forward cabin.
The Pilots Association has already expressed its support for Congress to force the conversion even existing aircraft with a similar barrier system.
What this backup protection will look like is not yet known. It is clear that this will not be just another armored door. In this case, the direct view between the cockpit door and the cabin is lost, and it is necessary for safety and communication purposes. The design of sliding metal grill doors may be approved.
Regardless of the additional security features, all stakeholders agree that a new requirement is necessary to improve the safety of commercial aircraft crews and passengers.