How hard is it to breach a cockpit? Flight expert weighs in

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Passenger-shot video captured the moments a brave flight attendant and passengers took down a man allegedly trying to get into the cockpit of Delta flight 386 bound for Nashville. 

While on the ground, the man yelled what sounded like “stop the plane” over and over.  

But it’s a move Murfreesboro Aviation Chief Flight Instructor Chris Hardee doesn’t recommend.

“Don’t do it, it’s not going to work out well for you.” 

 Since September 11, 2001, Hardee said cockpit security has continued to improve.  

“Actually, within days and months new standards were set for cockpit doors to get them reinforced,” Hardee said. “In fact, they’re reinforced to a standard 50 percent higher than the standard set forth by the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.” 

Although there’s a lot of secrets about security he couldn’t get into, Hardee said that training begins for flight crews on day one. Training he saw come through in the flight attendant being called a hero. 

“Under a stressful situation to respond well, it usually calls for going above and beyond, but at the same time all the flight crews, flight attendants included are trained to handle such situations,” Hardee said.  

In addition, flight crews have tools on board, like the restraints used in the passenger video, should there be an unruly passenger.  

Diverting a plane to another airport is something they also must be ready for.

“We learn how to figure our fuel, our time, get all the information about the airport needed,” Hardee said. He added they also have to consider the facilities at a new airport. “So the pilots would have definitely been considering those things as well as other security-type issues.”

Since September 11, Hardee said overall awareness and willingness to help has also improved.   

“Times changed on that day and now passengers are willing to stand up and help protect the airplanes.” 

Hardee wants to assure passengers, even though this incident was concerning, the chances of someone actually getting into a cockpit are very slim.   

“I feel very safe in the cockpit. I tell people all the time I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel very secure in today’s cockpits,” Hardee said. 

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