United 'plans to remove Dreamliner cockpit barriers'
United Continental's pilot union is requesting a meeting to discuss what it said is a plan for Boeing to take out secondary cockpit barriers on the airline's new 787 Dreamliners.
The airline "plans to pay for the removal of the secondary cockpit barrier/security enhancement" on the 787, Sean Cassidy, first vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association, wrote today in a letter to United Senior Vice President of Flight Operations Fred Abbott.
While the safety gates aren't required, "it makes no logical sense to pay for the removal of this device that further protects the flight deck from those with hostile intent," Cassidy wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.
The barriers are designed to protect the cockpit when the door is opened so pilots can leave to rest or use the lavatory. Chicago-based United voluntarily added steel-cable devices resembling large child-safety gates on some jets after the US responded to the September 11 hijackings by ordering that cockpit doors be hardened to withstand assaults.
"Secondary cockpit security barriers are installed on some of our fleet, but to prevent that security from being compromised we do not discuss the details of which aircraft are equipped," Christen David, an airline spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview.
David declined to comment further on the status of cockpit barriers on 787s. The carrier has said it expects to receive its first Dreamliner in September and as many as six this year.
A union spokeswoman, Lisa Cohen, confirmed the letter's authenticity while declining to comment further.
Cassidy wrote that secondary barriers were standard on 787s, while Boeing has said in the past that the devices were optional. A telephone message left with Lori Gunter, a Boeing spokeswoman, wasn't immediately returned.