Commercial Cargo Airplanes May Finally Get Cockpit Doors

Published: 03-30-2020
With passenger flights down, cargo is in the news. Let's take a look at some news on the safety front.

f you walk onto a cargo airplane from an all-cargo carrier you may be surprised to discover there is no door separating the cabin from the cockpit. Airliners that also run passenger flights and cargo flights on a 747 will have doors of course, but when it comes to all-cargo airlines, you usually won’t have a door to your back.

Cargo aircraft, of course, don’t have passengers, so the risk of anyone storming the cabin is low. This allowed cargo carriers to elude the post-9/11 legislation that required extra reinforcement for cockpit doors.

But when it comes to there be a cockpit door? Is there any risk to a cargo pilot?

Defending the Cockpit

Anything can be shipped via an airplane. If that freight releases toxic chemicals, poisonous bugs, or a malicious person hiding, cargo pilots are left wide open for danger.

That said, since those situations are typically rare, consider this: cargo pilots often transport large animals. If one of these animals were to get loose, this could be a real problem, even more so without a cockpit door.

Wild animals are typically tranquilized, but there’s no guarantee they stay asleep. Animal handlers often fly with these animals, just in case the hander needs to re-tranquilize them should they wake up or if an emergency occurs.

But animal handlers are not required to adhere to security clearances, nor undergo any background checks. And that’s just one example of a potential danger to the cockpit.

Adding doors to the cockpits of all-cargo carrier aircraft would add an extra measure of safety for pilots.

Updating the Law

To avoid such a catastrophe, Congress is trying to pass a new bill that is sponsored by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

Dubbed H.R. 6190, the new legislation would close the loophole in the 2001 law by making it mandatory for all cargo airplanes to be equipped with intrusion resistant cockpit doors.

According to Captain Joe DePete, President of ALPA, “The all-cargo airline arena continues to be identified as a significant security target in our aviation system, yet current regulatory requirements allow relatively unfettered access to the cargo flight deck during flight operations”.

DePete also stated that H.R. 6190 would “...close the gap in aviation safety loopholes for cargo pilots.” Representatives known to back the bill as of date are Brian Fitzpatrick and Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia. Hopefully, others in Congress and the Senate will back the new safety protocol.

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