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Aircraft Certification Employees Honored for Securing Cockpits - (4/9/2003)

CONTACT: Tomaso DiPaolo, 708-421-1225

WASHINGTON – Over 50 safety employees represented by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s aircraft certification bargaining unit played a crucial safety oversight role in the large-scale effort to design, test and install new, more secure cockpit doors in passenger aircraft. They were among those honored today as the Federal Aviation Administration announced the successful meeting of the deadline for the doors’ installation.

These federal employees were responsible for ensuring the new doors complied with all of the safety regulations in place for commercial transport aircraft. While the doors were designed to resist bullets and cockpit intruders, the aircraft certification workers had to balance those needs with the necessity to weigh issues such as flammability requirements, the effects on the door in the event of a decompression and escape means for cockpit crews.

As with any large challenge such as this, the employees said, there was a constant need to be flexible, create new designs and policy from scratch and, most of all, keep an eye on safety as the bottom line as the pressure intensified from both the looming installation deadline and the aircraft manufacturers and operators.

“What I see here is our federal employees clearly reacting to the threats from September 11th in a quick, but professional and well thought out manner,” said Tomaso DiPaolo, president of NATCA’s aircraft certification bargaining unit. “Our people dealt with a congressional mandate on the fly, while at the same time juggling their other mandate to deal with the safety of the public in other areas that we normally handle, such as working on accident investigations.""

The aircraft certification employees, many of them aerospace engineers, comprise a bargaining unit workforce of 580, which is smaller than many mid-sized companies.

“This project was extremely critical for the security of our nation’s vast fleet of aircraft in the post-September 11th world and our entire union is extremely proud of our represented employees whose made sure that safety was the bottom line at all times,” NATCA President John Carr said. “This was another great example of the inherently governmental work that NATCA members perform for this country each and every day.”

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