Labour Research December 2001

Features: Health and safety matters

Balpa rejects deadlocks

Air line pilots union BALPA has slammed plans by British Airways and Virgin to put deadlocks on cockpit doors. It says they are "ill-considered, ill-conceived and potentially dangerous".

The union has pointed out that the cockpit doors on the four airliners taken by the terrorists on 11 September were all locked. BALPA argues that the deadlocks will put passengers in more, not less, danger. It says that although they may play some part in helping to protect the integrity of the flight deck, without serious analysis and trials to validate crew procedures, an instant introduction carries a far higher risk to aviation safety than that posed from hijackers.

Issues of concern include what would happen if a pilot became ill; what if the flight crew became incapacitated (perhaps through smoke inhalation); and what would happen in the event of a violent depressurisation.