Apropos of hijackings, April 9 was the deadline for installing hardened cockpit doors on transport category aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on the day of the deadline the goal was met for the U.S. fleet of some 5,910 passenger-carrying aircraft. That same day, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge testified before the U.S. Senate that “about 95 percent of the 6,000 commercial airliners will have hardened doors as of today.”
That’s a difference of about 300 airplanes. A few airplanes were grounded as of deadline day, awaiting parts, but the reports of these cases don’t add up to anywhere close to 300 aircraft. In any event, the effort to mostly meet the deadline was considerable. In a Feb. 4 letter to the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said 1,123 airplanes had been fitted with the hardened doors as of that date. Using the baseline of 5,910 aircraft, that left 4,787 aircraft to be done. Discount the five percent mentioned by Secretary Ridge. That means in the 64 days from Feb. 4 to April 9 some 4,387 aircraft were fitted with hardened doors, for an average installation rate of some 75 aircraft per day.
In final ruling posted April 9 on the Federal Register, the FAA served notice that operators of about 130 aircraft with hardened doors but not the requisite certification have until July 31 to obtain approval for their design and installation. If the doors are not certified by that date, the aircraft face grounding (See Docket No. FAA-2001-10770).
Cargo aircraft, originally part of the mandate to install hardened doors, are now exempted.
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