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Are pilots locked in the cockpit?

Reasons To Keep Airplane Cockpit Doors Locked

Lots of people use the Boston airport to reach various domestic and international designation. How safe do you feel while flying? Did you hear the story of the Germanwings’ plane that may have been deliberately crashed by the co-pilot, while the pilot was locked out of the cockpit? Can you imagine being in a plane and having something like this happen? Following 9/11, we have all witnessed plenty of changes taking place in terms of cockpit security. The main goal was to try to make hijacking a lot more difficult. But what does the US Federal Aviation Administration have to say about doors and locks on cockpits? Let’s find out!

Cockpit Doors Should Withstand Grenade Blasts

  • According to the American Federal Aviation Administration, cockpit doors should be tough enough to withstand a grenade blast . The doors are also left locked during flights. Cockpit security systems should enable pilots to access the cockpit.
  • At the same time, access can also be deliberately denied from within the cockpit. Airbus planes for example feature various modes for their cockpit doors, that can be operated from the pilots’ seats: unlock, normal, and lock.
  • If the person in the cockpit is in any way incapacitated, there is an emergency touchpad that will enable the cabin crew to enter via an access code. During normal mode, the cockpit is locked, but can still be accessed after a 30-second delay with the help of a touchpad. This occurs if the cabin crew cannot get a response from the pilot.
  • The «unlocked» enables a pilot to open the cockpit door for a colleague returning from the restroom. Finally, locked mode refers to the locking mechanism that will disregard the the touchpad entry code and keep the door locked for five minutes. The process can then be repeated, if necessary. This mode is most suitable to prevent hijackers from entering the cockpit, despite of the fact that they have gotten the cabin crew code.
  • A well-established automotive locksmith services with experience in the trade should be able to handle any type of rising issues with locks on cockpit doors. It is imperative for plane owners to keep in touch with trustworthy and reliable locksmiths that specialize in automotive services. They should perform constant inspections and assessments and have everything fixed on time, prior to upcoming flights.
  • Certain planes also feature screens informing pilots about the persons outside the cockpit door. When pilots are not able to enter the cockpit, his colleagues have most likely denied his entry.
  • The matter of how many people should be inside the cockpit at any given moment is also important. For example, in the United States, whenever the pilot takes a break, a flight attendant will immediately step into the cockpit.
  • Some airlines used the so-called rule of two. This means that if the pilot leaves the cockpit for any length of time, a different crew member needs to replace them immediately.
  • Cockpit doors were made stronger in order to prevent terrorist access after 9/11, so your next Boston flight should be and feel a lot safer.
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Jeanne Rooney 2018-02-04T06:36:34-05:00 February 4th, 2016 | Categories: News | Comments Off on Reasons To Keep Airplane Cockpit Doors Locked

Jet cockpit doors nearly impossible to open by intruders

Security features include fortified construction, electronic code locking, video surveillance.

Thu., March 26, 2015 timer 2 min. read
update Article was updated Mar. 27, 2015

Canadian airlines quickly moved to require two crew members inside the cockpit at all times after voice recordings from the Germanwings crash revealed that the pilot was pounding on the door to get inside.

Air Canada was first out of the gate on Thursday with the change, quickly followed by other airlines including Air Transat and WestJet Airlines. Porter Airlines said it has always maintained the two-person crew rule in the flight deck at all times.

Lufthansa, the corporate parent of low-cost Germanwings, does not have a rule against a lone pilot. But U.S. carriers have required two people in the cockpit, asking a flight attendant to step in when needed.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced Thursday the government was imposing an emergency directive that two members of the cabin crew be on the flight deck at all times, though they do not necessarily both have to be licensed pilots.

Here is a look at the security features meant to keep intruders out of the cockpit.

Reinforced, bullet-proof doors became standard for most of the world’s airlines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a way to prevent intruders from entering the cockpit.

But the Germanwings crash raises questions about whether the protective mechanisms have gone too far by making the cockpit near-impossible to enter.

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Lufthansa, which operated the ill-fated A320 plane before it was handed to Germanwings in early 2014, said the cockpit had a fortified door with video surveillance to prevent unauthorized entry.

Fortified doors, which can cost more than $20,000, replaced flimsier ones that sometimes closed with a latch or a key.

The door to the cockpit locks automatically, but a keypad outside allows a flight attendant to input a security code to request entry. A buzzer sounds and the pilots, who can verify the crew member through a peephole or video surveillance, must switch the door control inside the cockpit to “unlock” to release the door.

If the pilots become incapacitated, a flight attendant can trigger an emergency access entry system with a special code. It sends a 30-second warning with sounds and lights inside the cockpit that the door will be opened shortly. Then there is five seconds for entry.

If they have any concerns, pilots have the capability of keeping the door in a locked position even if the emergency code is triggered. The door control toggle switch has three positions: unlock, normal and lock.

In the Germanwings case, investigators believe that the co-pilot refused to grant the pilot entry into the cockpit by keeping the switch in the lock position.

Airbus models include escape hatches built into the lower part of the cockpit door, allowing a pilot to remove the panel and squeeze through in the event an emergency or the door is jammed.

However, the panel can only be removed from inside the flight deck and not from the other side.

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In the event of a power failure, the door is automatically unlocked, but remains closed.

Files from Vanessa Lu, Star wire services, Airbus

Southwest pilot sues airline after a colleague locked them together in the cockpit and exposed himself to her

A Southwest Airlines pilot is suing the company, her union and a former colleague who pleaded guilty last year to stripping naked in front of her during a flight, Oct. 5, 2022.

David Zalubowski—AP

A Southwest Airlines pilot is suing the company, her union and a former colleague who pleaded guilty last year to dead-bolting the cockpit door during a flight and stripping naked in front of her.

Christine Janning alleges that Southwest retaliated by grounding her after she reported Michael Haak to the company and the FBI, that it kept him employed despite an alleged history of sexual misconduct and that managers disparaged her in memos.

She also alleges that the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association conspired with the airline and refused to support her. She is suing Haak for sexual assault. He pleaded guilty last year to a federal misdemeanor charge of committing a lewd, indecent or obscene act and was sentenced to probation.

Haak’s attorney, Michael Salnick, said Wednesday that his client disrobed only after Janning encouraged him to, never did anything else and that there were no previous incidents. Southwest said it supported Janning and that it would “vigorously defend” itself against the lawsuit. The union did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

The Associated Press doesn’t normally identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes, but Janning through her attorney agreed to the use of her name.

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According to the lawsuit filed last week in Orange County, Florida, Janning had never met Haak before August 2020, when she was his co-pilot on a flight from Philadelphia to Orlando. She says Haak, a 27-year veteran of the airline, had used his seniority rights the previous day to bump another pilot who had been scheduled to command the flight. Janning believes that’s because he saw a woman was the scheduled co-pilot.

Janning said that when they reached cruising altitude, Haak told her this was his final flight and there was something he wanted to do before retirement.

She said he bolted the door so no flight attendant could enter. He then put the plane on autopilot, stripped off his clothes, began watching pornography on his laptop and committed a lewd act for 30 minutes while taking photos and videos of himself.

Salnick said it was Janning who asked Haak if there was anything he wanted to do before retiring. When he replied he wanted to fly naked, she told him to go ahead and then made sexual advances after he disrobed, Salnick said. He said Haak rejected those and adamantly denied a lewd act occurred.

At his sentencing hearing last year, Haak called the incident “a consensual prank” that got out of hand.

Janning’s attorney, Frank Podesta, denied she encouraged Haak or made any advances.

Janning said in the lawsuit that she was “horrified,” but she kept flying the plane while taking photos “to create a record.” The plane landed safely.

And that wasn’t Haak’s final flight — he flew for three more weeks.

Meanwhile, Janning didn’t report the incident to a Southwest employee relations investigator until three months later. She said she waited because her boss had disparaged her to a male colleague previously. She said she asked the investigator not to inform her boss, but she did.

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Janning says she was soon told that because Haak had retired, the airline’s investigation was closed. Janning then went to the FBI, which charged Haak. She alleges Southwest had sent Haak to a Montreal sexual harassment counseling center after a 2008 incident involving a flight attendant.

Salnick says this incident never happened and Haak was never sent to a counseling center.

“This person will do and say whatever is necessary to obtain a financial windfall. I feel sorry for her,” Salnick said.

Janning said as retaliation for the FBI report, she was grounded for more than three months, costing her part of her salary. She was then required to take “unnecessary” flight simulator training before she could work again.

She also said that on the day she was grounded, the airline stranded her in Denver and the FBI had to book her a United Airlines flight so she could return home to Florida. She said a Southwest manager sent a memo to more than 25 employees “that made baseless allegations” about her flying competency.

Southwest denied Janning’s allegations, saying “we immediately supported (Janning) by cooperating with the appropriate outside agencies as they investigated.”

“Our corporate Culture is built upon treating others with mutual respect and dignity, and the events alleged in this situation are inconsistent with the behavior that we require of our Employees,” the statement read.

Janning said that when she contacted the union, its leaders did nothing to help her but did write a letter to Haak’s judge during his misdemeanor case saying he had a “spotless” record.

No hearings have been scheduled.

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