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| 1 minute read

FAA requires physical secondary barrier to protect flight deck

Those who have recently traveled on commercial airliners are probably familiar with a process during flight when a flight attendant maneuvers a beverage cart to the front of the aircraft and turns it perpendicularly.  Then, the cockpit door pops open and one of the pilots exits in order to use the lavatory.  During this time, the beverage cart serves as a physical barrier between the cabin and the cockpit.  Once the pilot returns to the cockpit and latches the door, the flight attendant returns the beverage cart to the galley.  This process is used to prevent intrusion into the flight deck when the cockpit door is open.

There is now a new requirement to protect the flight deck from intrusion which applies to operators conducting passenger-carrying operations under part 121.  On June 14, 2023, the FAA adopted a rule requiring a secondary barrier on the flight deck of newly manufactured commercial aircraft.  The secondary barrier, similar in function to a gate, will be locked into place when the cockpit door is opened.  The rule provides that the secondary barrier will "slow" an attack long enough so that an open flight deck door can be closed and locked before an attacker can reach the flight deck.  The FAA estimates that each secondary barrier, for parts and labor, will cost $35,000 each.  While the rule will go into effect in 60 days from June 14, 2023, affected operators must comply with the rule when operating transport category airplanes manufactured two years after the effective date of the rule.   The rule makes it crystal clear that it only applies to newly manufactured commercial aircraft – retrofitting is not required under the rule.  The rule also excludes the need for a secondary barrier in aircraft that only carry cargo, in private-use airplanes, and airplanes operating under part 129 (foreign air carriers).

As stated by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg:  “Every day, pilots and flight crews transport millions of Americans safely - and today we are taking another important step to make sure they have the physical protections they deserve.” 


aviation, faa, transportation