One likely response to last week's attacks will be new federal requirements for anti-terrorist equipment to be installed on commercial airplanes. And with Boeing Co. the largest private-sector employer in L.A., that would mean more work for local aerospace subcontractors and Boeing workers. All four of the planes hijacked last week were made by Boeing.
But don't look for Boeing to install anti-terrorist equipment before it is required to do so.
"Boeing delivers airplanes that meet FAA requirements," said company spokesman Thomas Ryan, when asked about the issue. "But we will do whatever it takes to enhance the safety and security of the airline industry."
One modification the manufacturer could make is the installation of more-rugged cockpit doors, said one United Airlines pilot, who has flown the Boeing 767 and 757 models that were hijacked.
The existing doors are mounted on weak hinges and frames to provide an easy escape for pilots in the event of a plane crash. But that makes them easy to break into, and besides, says the United pilot, cockpits are already equipped with rollaway windows large enough for a pilot to crawl through.
"As a pilot, I'll be concerned the next time I get into a cockpit," said the pilot, who asked not to be named. "The access to the cockpit is not as secure as it should be. I just hope there are some changes made, but it's hard to get anything changed because the bottom line is the cost involved."
Paul Nisbet, a partner at JSA Research Inc., a Newport, R.I. defense industry research firm, said planes would function just as smoothly with heavier doors. But he added that the issue would be moot if airports provided more stringent security measures.
"In Israel, they've never had a terrorist commandeer an airplane," said Nisbet. "So they don't need (more-secure) doors."
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