MIDLAND PARK, NJ -- On Aug. 3, Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8), a Democrat and a Republican, called on Congress to pass HR 911, the Saracini Aviation Safety Act of 2017, which would mandate the installation of secondary flight deck barriers on commercial airplanes. The bill is named after the late Captain Victor Saracini, who flew United Flight 175 on 9/11 and whose widow Ellen Saracini joined the Congressmen in Midland Park. The Allied Pilots Association, the Airline Pilots Association, and the United Association of Flight Attendants all spoke in support of the bill.
Video of the event can be found HERE.
“On 9/11, terrorists counted on being able to rush and breach the cockpit knowing that the doors would be opened early in the flight. And they did. And today, the flight deck remains vulnerable when that cockpit has to open,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Congressman Fitzpatrick and I re-introduced a bipartisan bill, H.R. 911, the Saracini Aviation Safety Act, to make sure that a tragedy like 9/11 never occurs again.”
“As our nation continues to combat the threat of terrorism, it’s crucial that we not only prepare for the future, but learn from the past. Protecting the cockpit of our nation’s planes is the simplest, cheapest and most effective method to prevent airplanes from being turned into weapons of war by those who seek to do us harm. Congressman Gottheimer and I will continue to fight until the Saracini Aviation Safety Act is signed into law and all passenger aircraft contain secondary barriers,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8).
“We all know where we were on September Eleventh.” said Ellen Saracini, widow of United Flight 175 Captain Victor Saracini. “We have put on a fortified cockpit door. That door works great, but only when it’s closed. The problem is, during flight, it opens multiple times and it’s during those times that the same vulnerability exists right now as it did on September Eleventh. We have an easy, low cost solution to make sure what we’re doing on our aircraft and for Americans is to make sure that I don't have to look another family member in the eye of terror and say ‘I’m sorry, I knew there was an issue and we should have done something about it.’ We have representation right here, Brian Fitzpatrick and Josh Gottheimer, who both have been working tirelessly to make sure that Americans are safe when they travel on an airplane.”
“On behalf of our 1,700 members, we stand with Congressmen Gottheimer and Fitzpatrick, as we did back when this bill was first introduced. Most importantly, we stand with Ms. Ellen Saracini. Her husband, Captain Saracini, for whom this legislation is named. It seems a very common sense piece of legislation considering the safety benefit.” said Frank Conti, First Vice President of the Port Authority.
“AFA is fully committed and has fully supported multi-layered approaches to increased airline safety on board our aircraft. Measures like the secondary barrier are so important for the protection of our crews, and our passengers that we travel with every day,” said Ken Diaz, the President of the Association of Flight Attendants United, Representing 24,000 Flight attendants at United Airlines.
“We’ve been working tirelessly with our Congressmen and with Ellen to get this legislation through for years now,” Dan Ward of the Airline Pilots Association. “We have an opportunity here to get this legislation through before tragedy strikes. And it’s very refreshing to see this bipartisan legislation moving forward to protect Americans, particularly as we are looking at rolling back our TSA standards at several airports across the country.”
“Today we stand before our 911 Memorial. I am grateful to join together with our Congressman Josh Gottheimer and his colleague Representative Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania as they present aviation safety legislation that will protect all of us,”said Midland Park Mayor Harry Shortway Jr.
The Saracini Aviation Safety Act [H.R. 911] mandates inexpensive, light weight wire-mesh gates to be installed between the passenger cabin and the cockpit door that would block access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during flight for pilots’ meals, restroom use, and other reasons. It is named in honor of pilot Captain Victor J. Saracini, who was killed when terrorists hijacked United Flight 175 on September 11, 2001. Saracini’s widow, Ellen, has been a leading advocate on the issue since her husband’s death.