FAA launches investigation into incident where passenger tried to enter cockpit

FAA is looking into an incident when an unruly passenger tried to open the doors to the cockpit on an American Airlines flight
Catharine Pierce / Shutterstock.com

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating an incident where an unruly passenger attempted to enter the cockpit during an American Airlines flight.   

The incident occurred on Flight AA3444 from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Florida, United States (US) to Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), D.C., US, when the passenger tried to open the doors to the cockpit. The flight was forced to divert to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), North Carolina, US.

The American Airlines Embraer E175, registered N229NN and operated by Envoy Air, departed for DCA several hours later on February 22, 2023.

“FAA is investigating an unruly passenger on a flight that landed safely at RDU,” the FAA said in a brief statement published on Twitter. The government agency added that in 2022, it had “made progress to require new planes to have a second barrier to the flight deck after the rule stalled under the previous administration” and that it was “working quickly to issue the final rule”. 

Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Secretary, issued a statement claiming that he was alerted by the FAA of a Level 4 disruption on the flight, which resulted in the diversion to RDU. 

“Thankful to all who helped ensure its safe arrival. As always, safety is our main concern and our top priority,” Buttigieg concluded.

In July 2022, the FAA issued a Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), regarding the installation and operation of flightdeck installed physical secondary barriers on transport category airplanes in Part 121 service. A Federal aviation regulation (FAR) 121 certificate allows companies to operate scheduled passenger air services in the US. 

The NPRM looked to “implement a mandate in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 by requiring that certain airplanes used to conduct domestic, flag, or supplemental passenger-carrying operations have an installed physical secondary barrier that protects the flightdeck from unauthorized intrusion when the flightdeck door is opened”. 

The period for third parties to comment on the NPRM ended on September 30, 2022, and since December 2022, the FAA has been analyzing the comments it received, according to a document on the US Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The FAA received 63 comments in total. 

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