Virgin Atlantic today announced that it is the first European airline to successfully complete the installation of new reinforced cockpit doors, as required by Phase Two of the Federal Aviation Administration’s guidelines issued in October 2001. Virgin Atlantic was previously the first European airline to retrofit its entire fleet in 2001 with fire resistant armour plating and a steel and aluminium deadlock security bar.
Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic said,
“We are pleased to be the first European airline to complete the implementation of these new reinforced doors, ensuring that we are now fully compliant with the FAA Security Phase Two requirements. British airlines have a world class security record and the safety and security of our passengers and staff is Virgin Atlantic’s highest priority. The completion of the installation of these reinforced doors across our fleet represents another important milestone in Virgin Atlantic’s ongoing program of security enhancements.
“We were also a primary force in determining the specification for the cockpit door video surveillance systems and will aim to complete our installation across the Virgin Atlantic fleet by summer 2003, ahead of the November 2003 deadline.”
The CCTV system consists of black and white displays with integrated video computer, Infra-red video cameras and systems controllers that will provide real-time video monitoring ensuring a fully secure cockpit area.
Virgin Atlantic was the first British airline to implement the initial reinforcement of its existing doors in 2001 which were strengthened with Permaglass X armour plating, designed to withstand attacks by knife, hatchet and handgun fire. The newly installed doors are able to withstand ballistic assault, and meet strict entry, escape and decompression requirements with electronic locks, and keypad entry codes.
These new doors will enhance the protection given to Virgin Atlantic’s flight deck crew while taking into account the threat of depressurisation in the case of emergency access. The doors were designed and developed in close consultation with all its staff, particularly its pilots, and the British Association of Air Line Pilots, working closely with all the appropriate authorities, including the CAA and FAA to gain the necessary regulatory approval.
On the ground, the airline has introduced a range of initiatives that focus on enhancing the screening of passengers and baggage prior to take off, including additional secondary pre-screening procedures of passengers and baggage, prior to check-in. Virgin Atlantic has x-rayed all of its passengers’ carry-on and checked-in baggage for years and will continue to do so.