CHICAGO – United, the nation’s No. 2 airline, will immediately begin installing steel bars on the cockpit doors of all its planes, and other airlines are also considering new security measures to protect pilots and calm nervous passengers.
United officials said they have obtained a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration that allows the airline to install the bars and locking hardware without going through the usual approval process.
“We’re going to move quite aggressively to install these,” United spokesman Joe Hopkins said Tuesday. “We think it’s a good move.”
Hopkins said the airline is already talking with suppliers and the bars should be on the doors within a matter of weeks.
Alaska Airlines said it, too, has begun installing crossbar locking devices on its cockpit doors.
The steel bars are designed to prevent forced entry into a plane’s control center, something that may have happened Sept. 11 on the four hijacked airliners.
The devices, however, have raised other safety concerns.
Aircraft maker Boeing said it will not retrofit any of its planes because it worries the bars could prevent evacuation of the cockpit in an emergency.
Some flight attendants have also expressed concern about not being able to get into cockpit if pilots became incapacitated.
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