Release #10.009
March 24, 2010

ALPA Applauds TSBC “Watchlist” of Top Aviation Safety Issues

WASHINGTON – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), lauds the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC) for publishing its recent “Watchlist” of transportation safety concerns in Canada, and underscores that the list contains many issues that are top safety priorities for ALPA-represented pilots.

“We applaud the TSBC for issuing its new Watchlist of transportation safety issues that are of the greatest concern to the Board as a result of its accident investigations,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president. “We hope the Watchlist will put a spotlight on these issues and galvanize public support for taking action to address these safety threats.”

ALPA, which is the world’s largest non-governmental aviation safety organization, has called repeatedly for action on many Watchlist issues, including reducing the risks of runway incursions and excursions, protecting against controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), and increasing the use of safety management systems (SMS).

The TSBC’s support for enhancing runway end safety areas (RESAs) across Canada is particularly welcomed by ALPA pilots. Recent worldwide aviation accident data demonstrate that runway excursions and overruns are now among the most common causes of airline accidents. To address this issue, ALPA underscores the TSBC recommendation that airports lengthen the safety areas at the ends of runways or install other engineered systems to safely bring planes to a halt in the event of an overrun.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards call for RESAs to be at least 90 meters (295 feet) long, and ICAO recommends that these areas be 240 meters (780 feet) in length. However, through the official filing of a “difference,” Transport Canada has formally advised ICAO that the agency is not in compliance with the 90-meter RESA standard.

“We know the actions we need to take to make runways safer in Canada,” said Capt. Rory Kay, ALPA’s Executive Air Safety Chairman. “ALPA urges Transport Canada to fully comply with the international standards and recommended practices that we know will enhance safety for our passengers, crews, and cargo.”

ALPA also supports the TSBC’s call for pilots to receive timely and accurate information about runway surface conditions in bad weather, improved procedures for and adoption of enhanced collision warning systems at Canadian airports, and the wider use of technology to help pilots assess their proximity to terrain.

In addition, ALPA pilots echo the TSBC recommendation that Transport Canada closely scrutinize the Canadian airline industry’s transition to safety management systems into day-to-day operations. While the first line of defense in preventing accidents is strong aviation safety regulations, it is impossible to regulate every conceivable aspect of the industry. SMS aids airlines by allowing them to internally audit their procedures to find and mitigate safety risks that regulators have not anticipated.

“Safety management systems programs help prevent accidents and incidents before they occur, and they are fundamental to ensuring that the highest safety standards are maintained,” said Capt Dan Adamus, president of ALPA’s Canada Board. “ALPA stands ready to work with both airlines and Transport to ensure that a robust safety culture is maintained at all Canadian airlines.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.

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CONTACT: Linda Shotwell, 703/481-4440 or media@alpa.org