Cockpit Security: will complacency open the door to a tragedy?

Before 11 September 2001, the highlight for many children, who were lucky enough to experience the joy of flying in the first place, was that memorable, and often once-in-a-lifetime, visit to the cockpit. Who knows how often such visits ignited a passion for flight and the subsequent careers of many of today’s pilots? Cockpit doors were originally designed to provide pilots with a quiet operating environment. The requirement for the installation of reinforced or hardened cockpit doors on most of the globe’s commercial aircraft fleet was one of the significant security measures introduced in the wake of the September 2001 attacks; this, sadly, resulted in the end of that special visit to the cockpit by adults and children alike. In October 2001, the then U.S. Transportation Secretary, Norman Mineta, released the findings of two panels of experts who had been engaged to make security recommendations for airports and airlines; better screening of passengers and luggage and a better design of cockpit doors were two of the major priorities recommended. The aim of the installation of the hardened cockpit door was to inhibit, or at least delay, forced entry of unauthorised persons into the flight deck and to protect flights crews against small arms fire and small cabin explosions.

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