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The State Department has told Americans not to travel abroad at all, which is the strongest U.S. alert yet. USA TODAY

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Are pilots wearing masks inside the cockpit when they fly during the coronavirus pandemic?

– Keagan, Canada

I have seen some cargo pilots wear full hazmat suits with masks if they were flying to areas where the virus threat is high. Otherwise, the pilots I have spoken with are not wearing masks. 

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What were cockpit security measures when you started flying and what are they like now?

– Richard Manly, Altadena, California

A lot has changed since I started flying 50 years ago.  When I started with Piedmont Airlines in 1980, we locked the flight deck door. Now, the doors are much stronger and the locking mechanism is better.  We did some passenger screening, but nothing like today. 

Back then, security was focused on hijacking for political or monetary extortion. Terrorism was confined to a very limited number of countries far away from our route structure. 

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Today, one of the primary focuses of airline operation is security. After Sept. 11, 2001, security became one of the primary focuses of airline operations. 

Bottom line: Our system is safer today than it was when I started. 

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John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.

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