By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A bill by a Bucks County congressman is designed to improve airline security while honoring one of the pilots murdered in a 9/11 hijacking. This bill has broad bipartisan support, but why has it languished on Capitol Hill?

The Saracini Aviation Safety Act would force commercial airlines to install a secondary barrier, a wire-mesh gate between the cockpit door and the cabin, so when the pilots need to use the bathroom or get food, the flight deck is protected.

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Ellen Saracini is the widow of Captain Victor Saracini, the pilot of United Flight 175, which terrorists flew into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

“We’re coming up to the 15-year anniversary of the death of my husband and 2,796 other people,” she said. “All of those people are not with us here today for one reason, and for one reason only: the cockpit was breached.”

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An FAA study, which included the FBI, TSA, airlines, and more, found that when door was opened, a hijacker could get to the controls within two seconds, easily bypassing current secondary security: a flight attendant and a drink cart.

The gates cost several thousand dollars per plane. Supporters of the bill, authored by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, say an airline trade group has lobbied against it, influencing enough congress people to keep it from getting a vote. But Fitzpatrick’s office says there’s reason for optimism that the legislation will be considered as part of an FAA re-authorization bill later this year.


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