United Airlines changes cockpit door codes after inadvertent posting

An airline spokeswoman said Monday that United sent a memo to pilots over the weekend telling them to use alternative security measures.

They announced the possible breach in a employee bulletin. "In the interim this protocol ensures our cockpits remain secure", United Airlines spokesperson Maddie King said in a statement.

The Air Line Pilots Association, a union that represents 55,000 pilots in the US and Canada, told the WSJ on Sunday that the problem had been fixed. One pilot told CBS News those codes would probably have to be changed manually on every plane.

Beleaguered United Airlines, an operating unit of United Continental Holdings (NYSE:UAL), admitted that details of its cockpit security have been made public.

Security of cockpits was strengthened after the terror attacks in September 2001, during which hijackers took over control of United and American Airlines planes.

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The incident has been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the use of the cockpit codes could give individuals unauthorized access to pilot compartments, and in today's world of terrorism and the risk of planes being attacked or hijacked, such an information leak could be unsafe to crew and passengers. "United utilizes a number of measures to keep our flight decks secure beyond door-access information".

According to FAA regulations, the cockpit door should be able to "resist penetration by small arms fire and grenade shrapnel".

There were no reports of flight delays or other schedule problems caused by the unusual incident.

However, some of these rules had to be rewritten after a fatal Germanwings crash in 2015 in which the co-pilot locked the captain out of the cockpit before flying the aircraft into the French Alps.

  • Neal Todd