A new video shows how a terrorist could breach an airliner’s cockpit in just two seconds and lock its reinforced door behind him.
Cockpit doors were strengthened after 9/11. But Ellen Saracini, widow of United Airlines Flight 175 Capt. Victor Saracini, whose plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center, is pushing for added security.
Proponents, including law enforcement, pilots and flight attendants’ unions, say the secondary barriers could stall an attack. Airlines oppose the mandate, which could cost $12,000 per aircraft.
The black-and-white dramatization depicts a pair of flight attendants following the post-9/11 procedure for cockpit crew food and beverage service. One rolls out a beverage cart to straddle the aisle — establishing a barrier at the front of the plane’s passenger cabin. Behind her, the other calls the flight crew via intercom and asks them to open the cockpit door. As it cracks, two men close in from the front of the passenger cabin. One man forces the first flight attendant and the beverage cart aside. The other passes him, follows the second flight attendant into the cockpit and shuts the door behind him.
Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a co-sponsor of the secondary barrier bill, praised the video’s intent but not its public release. “My concern is anything that could alert the enemy to our vulnerabilities,” King said.
Douglas Laird, former head of security for Northwest Airlines, said he doubts such a breach would succeed, noting that crew members look through a peephole before opening their cockpit door. “I just find it very difficult to believe,” he said. “I guess nothing’s impossible.”