In Chicago, 9/11 Widow Fights for Added Cockpit Security

By Kim Vatis NBC Chicago

See video of Ellen Saracini here.

Ellen Saracini lost her husband on September 11, 2001 when terrorists rushed the cockpit aboard United Flight 175 and crashed the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

In Chicago on Wednesday, she talked security with top United Airlines safety officials and pleaded for more cockpit safety.

“Twelve years later the cockpit is still not secure,” she said.

The legislation she’s supporting would mandate that all airlines install secondary cockpit barriers. Should any attacker rush the cockpit, the added gate would provide a few extra second for the pilots to be alerted and avert possible disaster.

United Airlines took the lead after 9/11, installing the devices on many planes, but not all of them. The company recently abandoned plans to install the extra barriers on its new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

“It’s insulting to the pilots and crews that died September 11,” said Saracini. “I can’t look another victim’s family in the eyes and say to them, ‘I knew there was an issue and I sat back and did nothing.’”

The Saracini Aviation Safety Act, as it’s known, currently sits in committee.

Given United’s history with hijackers, Saracini was hoping the airline would take the lead and install the barriers without being ordered.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Saracini said that without a forced mandate, United won’t budge and install the barriers. The airline said costs [sic] is not a factor.

“Security measures have evolved in the years since the barriers were ordered and many more layers of security now exist,” an United spokesperson said in a statement.

Most other airlines do not use the gates. Saracini said there have been reported of 10 cockpit breaches in the last five years.

“My husband has no voice any more,” she said, adding: “I will be here to stand up for him.”

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