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Armoured Cockpit Door: Good Idea?  
User currently offlineGlbltrvlr From United States of America, joined Oct 2007, 634 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 12250 times:

Post 9/11, there was a rush to install armoured cockpit doors on all US commercial aircraft. Most other countries followed along. I recall at the time that one of the arguments against this was that it would impede cockpit egress by the crew and access in the case of an accident.

The BBC 1 News at Ten is reporting that emergency crews were unable to access the cockpit at AMS today for an extended period of time. In fact, they were showing video of an emergency worker trying to break in to the top of the cockpit from the exterior with a small axe. They attributed the delay to the crews not being able to get through the cockpit door.

Given the relatively intact cockpit, one wonders if a quicker response might not have saved the lives of the crew...

[Edited 2009-02-25 21:15:16]

50 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJorge1812 From Germany, joined exactly 10 years ago today! , 3148 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 12196 times:

I don't have exact numbers but I think it happens more often that someone is trying to get into the cockpit where he does not belong than a plane crashing and the cockpit crew has to be rescued out of that part what was the front section before.

georg


User currently offlineGlbltrvlr From United States of America, joined Oct 2007, 634 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 12186 times:

Indeed... There are always trades to be made and I'm sure that was the reasoning behind going ahead with the armoured door installs. I'm also sure that many decisions were made in the name of security that after time for analysis and reflection, were found to have limited benefit.

User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21416 posts, RR: 60
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 12000 times:



Quoting Glbltrvlr (Thread starter):
They attributed the delay to the crews not being able to get through the cockpit door.

We don't know why they couldn't get in. That cockpit looks crushed, the gear is pushed up into the fuse, and the door could have simply been blocked by the wreckage.

I say this because the armored door is likely easily opened with two or three pry-bars or a plasma cutter at worst, neither of which is normally available to passengers who may be up to no good. But you have to be able to access the door to use them, and looking at that wreck, that may have been the issue. No access.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineFlyMIA From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7004 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 11934 times:

Of course its a good idea. It is a preventive security measure which makes it almost impossible for someone to get into the cockpit from the cabin which is a very good thing.
As for this, the plane crashed it was in horrible condition who knows what happened with the door.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineAv8orwalk From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 177 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 11899 times:

I think if they really wanted to access the cockpit after an emergency and found the "impenetrable door" not accessible, the next best thing would be a ladder and a hammer to the cockpit window. Guaranteed access in seconds.

May everyone who was affected by this crash be consoled.

Cheers!
Drew MCO



The safest place to be in an airplane crash is on the ground.
User currently offlineDogBreath From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2008, 256 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 11442 times:

As an Airline pilot, I cetainly feel a lot safer and secure with the re-inforced flightdeck doors installed than the pre-9/11 doors. Whilst this may seem to have been a factor (we should wait for the actual 'facts' to be properly reported) in the AMS crash, I personally think risk assessment would say it's better to keep terrorist/s or nutjobs out of the flight deck, as potentially using the aircraft as a suicide weapon would take more lives than the flight deck crew in a crash.


Truth, Honour, Loyalty
User currently offlineSydaircargo From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 242 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 11213 times:

news reports this morning also say that the crew was crushed by overhead instrument panels
on impact. don´t think they survived the impact at all. R.I.P.


User currently offlineBrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4058 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 11189 times:

Quoting Av8orwalk (Reply 5):
I think if they really wanted to access the cockpit after an emergency and found the "impenetrable door" not accessible, the next best thing would be a ladder and a hammer to the cockpit window. Guaranteed access in seconds.


Looking at the pictures I don't think that this was an option. Are there not emergency exits in the cockpit for the pilots? Conversely would these not be useful for entering the cockpit in an emergency situation.

[Edited 2009-02-26 05:14:59]

[Edited 2009-02-26 05:15:44]


Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently offlineSwissy From Switzerland, joined Jan 2005, 1734 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 11149 times:



Quoting DogBreath (Reply 6):
As an Airline pilot, I cetainly feel a lot safer and secure with the re-inforced flightdeck doors installed than the pre-9/11 doors. Whilst this may seem to have been a factor (we should wait for the actual 'facts' to be properly reported) in the AMS crash, I personally think risk assessment would say it's better to keep terrorist/s or nutjobs out of the flight deck, as potentially using the aircraft as a suicide weapon would take more lives than the flight deck crew in a crash.

I guess that sums it up nicely, you fix one problem and create another.... but also think it is the "lesser evil".....

Cheerios,


User currently offlineTIALATI From Albania, joined Sep 2007, 72 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 11106 times:

Indeed I asked this same question a year or so back and one of the fellow a.netter from the US became jumpy about me asking this question.

I asked this question when the first officer of a flight from UK to Turkey or Cyprus died in flight and the copilot had to fly the aircraft on his own until the destination. My question again arises "what happens in the case that both pilots either pass out or become incapacitated inflight or on the ground as it happened yesterday with the TK flight"

What are the procedures in this case how do the emergency services/fellow flight crew get access to the cockpit in these circumstances?????

Again quoting:

Quoting DogBreath (Reply 6):



Quoting DogBreath (Reply 6):
As an Airline pilot, I cetainly feel a lot safer and secure with the re-inforced flightdeck doors installed than the pre-9/11 doors. Whilst this may seem to have been a factor (we should wait for the actual 'facts' to be properly reported) in the AMS crash, I personally think risk assessment would say it's better to keep terrorist/s or nutjobs out of the flight deck, as potentially using the aircraft as a suicide weapon would take more lives than the flight deck crew in a crash.

I understand his reasoning behind this and i totally agree, and i repeat i am not opposing the armoured cockpit door. But, certainly there has to be some sort of way to give access to the emergency people in this situations.


User currently offlineNnomad From Portugal, joined Feb 2009, 32 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 10836 times:



Quoting TIALATI (Reply 10):
My question again arises "what happens in the case that both pilots either pass out or become incapacitated inflight or on the ground as it happened yesterday with the TK flight"

well....praying is an option...

you can't make everyone happy...you need to establish what options are more convenient, safer and more appropriate...its a mathematical issue:

the odds of a dual pilot incapacitation are a lot more unrealistic than an "intruder" in the cockpit..and those are facts...so you go with probabilities, which, until proven otherwise, are the leading course of action.

A.



don't expect too much from the world's end
User currently offlineAdam42185 From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 408 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 9706 times:



Quoting Swissy (Reply 9):
I guess that sums it up nicely, you fix one problem and create another.... but also think it is the "lesser evil".....

Cheerios,

I agree with this. I think that the armored cockpit door is great to keep people out. There is an inherent danger of flying (I know, I know, it is very very safe and very unlikely that anything will happen) and thus if there is an accident it may cause a problem. If you choose to be an airline pilot (which I hope to be) you also choose to run the risk of being in a plane crash. It sounds morbid, but it is true and pilots know that when they choose the profession. I think that it that the armored cockpit door is important because it is aimed at preventing accidents. Preventing accidents from happening is the best way to ensure the safety of those on board.

I am not sure which planes do and dont have them, but dont some airliners have an emergency escape hatch type of thing from the cockpit for cabin crew in the event of an accident that they cant get out conventionally?


User currently offlinePHLBOS From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 7482 posts, RR: 24
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 9554 times:



Quoting Glbltrvlr (Thread starter):
Post 9/11, there was a rush to install armoured cockpit doors on all US commercial aircraft. Most other countries followed along.

IIRC, LY has had armoured cockpit doors on all their planes well before 9/11/01.



"TransEastern! You'll feel like you've never left the ground because we treat you like dirt!" SNL Parady ad circa 1981
User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3520 posts, RR: 12
Reply 14, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 9525 times:

The bottom line is you're weighing the lives of everybody on the plane, of which there can be hundreds, vs. the lives of the pilots, of which there are two. Yes, it's tragic when anybody dies, but there is a real quantitative analysis that can easily be done here. And this is not theoretical, either - thousands of people have died, and not just on 9/11, from bad people breaking through cockpit doors. How many pilots have died because rescuers could not reach them through a reinforced door?


I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently onlineRoseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9378 posts, RR: 52
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 9191 times:



Quoting TIALATI (Reply 10):
My question again arises "what happens in the case that both pilots either pass out or become incapacitated inflight or on the ground as it happened yesterday with the TK flight"

You have an accident like the Helios crash in Greece (where the plane failed to pressurize) where the cabin crew was alive and alert due to their oxygen systems, but the pilots were not so the cabin crew were along for the ride until they ran out of fuel.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineDualQual From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 732 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 9144 times:



Quoting TIALATI (Reply 10):
What are the procedures in this case how do the emergency services/fellow flight crew get access to the cockpit in these circumstances?????

You shouldn't get specific procedures but it has been thought of and accounted for.


User currently offlineTravellerPlus From New Zealand, joined Nov 2008, 347 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 8636 times:



Quoting Av8orwalk (Reply 5):
the next best thing would be a ladder and a hammer to the cockpit window.

Good idead, however cockpit windows are incredibly thick. I don't have the details, but I think they could be as thick as 30cms (1 ft) or more on some aircraft. They are formed by multiple layers of transparent materials and are designed to resist the force of impacts like bird strikes. A hammer will be rather ineffective at this task.

Then there may be the issues of removing injured occupants via the windows. This could be the worst access point for those with spinal injuries, which are a common injury for surviving cockpit crews in such accidents.

Maybe a simple door release mechanism on the exterior of the fuselage could be designed? This will not be accessible in flight, but totally accessible to rescuers or cabin crew who are evacuating an aircraft.



What goes around comes around....unless your luggage is not on the carousel...
User currently offlineTIALATI From Albania, joined Sep 2007, 72 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 8424 times:



Quoting TravellerPlus (Reply 17):
Maybe a simple door release mechanism on the exterior of the fuselage could be designed? This will not be accessible in flight, but totally accessible to rescuers or cabin crew who are evacuating an aircraft.

That is a good idea but you have to think that a ramp agent might disarm it unintentionally and that would leave the cockpit door unlocked throughout the flight making that a potential security breach.

On the other hand i would propose an even simpler system similar to that of normal car which in case of an accident would unlock all doors. I would propose that the cockpit door latch be disengaged automatically upon the opening the emergency door. Anyone like to elaborate further...


User currently offlineRailker From Canada, joined Aug 2006, 170 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 8354 times:



Quoting Adam42185 (Reply 12):
I am not sure which planes do and dont have them, but dont some airliners have an emergency escape hatch type of thing from the cockpit for cabin crew in the event of an accident that they cant get out conventionally?

There is emergency access available to the cockpit from the outside, a handle underneath the copilot's window, and a label stating to pull the indicated latch and push on the window (I suppose an external method of actuating the handle the copilot would normally use to open his window and slide it back).

As for the door, there is a fire axe inside the door for emergencies -- it should have to be able to get through it, I would imagine. And also from the inside there is also a method to open panels on the door and create an escape (although not very helpful to emergency crews on the outside).


User currently offlineAdam42185 From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 408 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8289 times:



Quoting Railker (Reply 19):
There is emergency access available to the cockpit from the outside, a handle underneath the copilot's window, and a label stating to pull the indicated latch and push on the window (I suppose an external method of actuating the handle the copilot would normally use to open his window and slide it back).

As for the door, there is a fire axe inside the door for emergencies -- it should have to be able to get through it, I would imagine. And also from the inside there is also a method to open panels on the door and create an escape (although not very helpful to emergency crews on the outside).

Thanks for that info


User currently offlineFaxiTMA From Iceland, joined Jan 2009, 56 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8275 times:

Why the armoured door? If one really wanted to get in the cockpit of, for example, a 757 then just enter the lavatory behind the cockpit and drive your fist through your wall or kick it down

After 9/11, like so many airliners, FI was required to install tougher (armoured) doors to the cockpit. The local police "SWAT" team showed that it doesn't take to much of an effort to kick down that door

So if the doors should be armoured, than please make the wall seperating the cockpit from the cabin tougher too


 airplane 


User currently offlineRichM From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 796 posts, RR: 7
Reply 22, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 7918 times:

Quoting TravellerPlus (Reply 17):
however cockpit windows are incredibly thick. I don't have the details, but I think they could be as thick as 30cms (1 ft) or more on some aircraft.

1ft thickness? I am no expert, but that seems totally illogical to me. I would have thought they would be a few inches at the most, surely?

Quoting FaxiTMA (Reply 21):
Why the armoured door? If one really wanted to get in the cockpit of, for example, a 757 then just enter the lavatory behind the cockpit and drive your fist through your wall or kick it down

May I ask what makes you think that a cockpit divider wall is that weak? Again, I'm no expert, but surely it wouldn't be as weak as you portray?

[Edited 2009-02-26 13:06:53]

User currently offlineAirbuster From Netherlands, joined Mar 2007, 423 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7832 times:

I have once been stuck in the flight deck for 3 hours and had to get out via the window because the lock mechanism was broken. It took another 4 hours and 50+ removed screws to get it open again. Once it's locked IT'S LOCKED. Now there is a emergency access panel or code on all aircraft to get in, but that didn't work in this case and it could have been U/S after the TK crash. Though personally I think that the door not opening on the 738 was more due to the impact and deformation.

rgds

Ab



FLY FOKKER JET LINE!
User currently offlineDanfearn77 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2008, 1807 posts, RR: 9
Reply 24, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 6778 times:

Armoured cockpit doors are a great idea. I totally agree with Dogbreath when he says its better to keep the terroists out in the first place. If something happens in flight then im sure a few hits with an axe will work nicely. In all honesty, the chances of terrorism is a lot higher than both the flight crew passing out at exactly the same time as each other and not being able to phone the crew for help etc.


Eagles may soar high, but weasels dont get sucked into jet engines!
25 M11Stephen : The entire wall between the flight deck and cabin is armored, not just the door. F/As also have ways of getting into the flight deck in the event one
26 Jbernie : In regards to getting access to the crew, if access is difficult, the use of a ladder to at least see inside the cockpit area to get an idea of whethe
27 Aviateur : Here is what I wrote in one of my columns at Salon a few months ago.... "...Before getting on to the bigger stuff, let’s talk about doors for a minu
28 HAWk21M : Why did the crew not use the #2 Windows on both sides.They are track sliding types.Were they jammed? regds MEL.
29 RichM : If you're referring to the TK crash, then I believe it's because parts of the cockpit were crushed, and they were trapped as a result of that.
30 M11Stephen : I have to disagree with this. Some family members of those on board United 93 are certain that the passengers and remaining crew made it into the coc
31 Grozzy : What about an electronic lock? Power is needed to keep the door locked. If the power fails (in a crash) the door opens.
32 Post contains links Tialati : Hi guys found this link on flight global http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...h-draws-cockpit-door-scrutiny.html It talks about the possible drawbac
33 AirNZ : You keep mention this 'fact', so could you then perhaps give some sort of explanation as to why it didn't work on the TK crash, and apparently also o
34 Widebody : If I remember rightly, there was an FAA requirement that a fireman armed with an axe should be able to break through the door in 15 mins.
35 Widebody : This is the case already, the doors are connected to the battery bus bar (on Airbus anyway). However the twisting and torsion involved in a crash wou
36 EXAAUADL : I dont recall but didnt all 9-11 hijackers gain easily enterance to the cockpits? None had to actually break the door down? IF so an armored cockpit d
37 Luv2cattlecall : An armored cockpit door would have also prevented the hijackers from entering the cockpit in the first place....I fail to see your point.
38 Jbernie : If there is a way to access the cockpit from the outside and the flight crew know this as M11Stephen keeps indicating then all you need to do is take
39 Hawkercamm : It is quite possible in a very heavy crash (TK crash) resulting in extreme belly impact any type of door can become jammed. In this case if you are th
40 Widebody : There is a way for the FA's to get in, but there is a time period involved during which the pilots are alerted to this and can over-ride the request.
41 Post contains images ZANL188 : I think instead of questioning the need for armored doors we should be questioning why someone was using an axe to access the cockpit. A powered resc
42 Tdscanuck : Pre 9/11, the flight crew would have opened the door whether it was armoured or not, because standard protocol to deal with hijacking on a US aircraf
43 Jbernie : Thank you, that makes good sense.
44 Aviateur : Well, that's sort of, mostly true. "Passive resistance," it was called. Though it wasn't so clean cut. You may or may not open the door, depending. P
45 M11Stephen : This is what I meant, I didn't say it though because I didn't want to compromise aircraft security. A family member who is a pilot told me about it a
46 TheCol : One of the FA's, who happened to be working on his CPL, did enter the Helios cockpit and sent a distress call on the wrong frequency.
47 Widebody : It's common knowledge alright, but its of no benefit anyway to a potential hijacker. It's the same as the standard doorbell, either way the pilots ha
48 EXAAUADL : My point is on what flight did the hijackers break down the cockpit door??/ I think the answer is none. But the pax on flight 93 would NOT have been
49 Goaliemn : Using that same logic, the hijackers wouldn't have been in the cockpit if there was an armored door..
50 Jpiddink : This rumour has now been officially denied by the Dutch Safety Board, as the door was already slightly opened and the cockpit could in fact be access
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