As if United Airlines hasn't had enough of a PR disaster in the recent weeks, there's now word of another, potentially dangerous mishap. United's cockpit door access codes have been inadvertently posted online to a public website. This wasn't the work of hackers, terrorists, or a disgruntled employee. Instead, an airline attendant mistakenly posted them online without realizing what they contained.
Flight cockpits were secured following the September 11th attacks and this included attaching locks with keypads to all doors. Anyone wishing to enter must input the correct access code and pilots further have the ability to override the system if it becomes compromised. In a statement, they said "the safety of our customers and crew is our top priority and United utilizes a number of measures to keep our flight decks secure beyond door access information." United has told all pilots to continue visually inspecting anyone wishing to enter the flight deck, so "in the interim this protocol ensures our cockpits remain secure."
The Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilot union in the world, has since said that the problem has been fixed. It is believed that United will have to manually change the access codes on all of its airplanes. United has nearly 4500 departures each day but this total code upgrade can be completed fairly quickly if United wishes to pursue it.
In an email to employees, United has reiterated that the codes are "sensitive security information and sharing this with anyone not authorized or who does not have a need to know is strictly prohibited." In the meantime, "the risk of a breach of the flight deck door is strongly mitigated by carefully following the flight deck security procedures."