In December, Delta received its first A321 assembled at the Airbus facility in Alabama.

The Delta Master Executive Council (MEC) logged hundreds of meeting hours over the course of 2016 as it negotiated a strong tentative agreement that advanced the careers of not only Delta pilots but airline pilots as a whole. On Dec. 1, 2016, the pilots ratified the agreement by a margin of 82 percent, a record-setting percentage for the pilot group.

Displays of pilot unity escalated throughout Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee (SPSC) efforts. Harnessing the capabilities and efficiencies of technology, the SPSC organized virtual base strike centers, and successfully managed an unprecedented eight-base single-day picket event that garnered maximum news media exposure. The virtual strike center concept significantly curbed expenses related to a brick-and-mortar center with little to no noticeable reduction in event planning and execution.

The committee also coordinated several other informational and family/pilot unity events.

The ratified contract delivers 30.5 percent in compounded pay raises over four years and retroactive pay for 2016, protects profit sharing, and provides work-rule improvements that recognize the contributions of the pilots to the historically profitable airline.

During 2016, the pilots’ MEC committee structure achieved extraordinary results in protecting and defending the contract and the careers of Delta pilots. Following are a few of the notable highlights.

F/O John Klinger, the pilots’ Central Air Safety Committee (CASC) vice chairman, received ALPA’s Air Safety Award, the Association’s highest individual safety honor, for his body of work spanning two decades of volunteer service.

The CASC worked with the airline’s Flight Safety Department, implementing CrossTalk, a groundbreaking initiative to unlock the potential of safety data by permitting the comingling of ASAP and FOQA data. This was accomplished while retaining all pilot-protective provisions previously afforded to Delta crews.

Additionally, the CASC is leading an effort to change the way the airline industry looks at standard operating procedures (SOPs). Although SOPs have succeeded in improving safety metrics, they haven’t been fundamentally changed in decades. By starting their design with human factors, updated SOPs can simultaneously make pilot jobs easier, more efficient, and safer. The pilots and the company have worked together to serve as an example of what can be collaboratively accomplished to run an operation with wide safety margins.

The pilots’ Contract Administration Committee also forged new ground with Memorandum of Understanding 16–01, which modified the pilot working agreement maternity leave language to match federal law.

Other highlights include

  • enforcing staffing and rest-seat requirements,
  • continuing pilot access to upgraded seats while on deadhead travel,
  • developing procedures for pilots who request removal from flights to Zika destinations, and
  • formalizing the process for pilots presenting information to their chief pilots after calling in unfit for duty or fatigued.

Delta continues to aggressively hire new pilots, which has impacted all of the MEC committees. The Membership Committee hosted a record 33 new-hire orientations for 1,240 pilots.

The Retirement and Insurance Committee was also kept busy with the new-hire orientations, presenting preretirement and open enrollment webinars for several hundred pilots.

The Government Affairs Committee and Delta pilots continue to maintain their robust presence on Capitol Hill, advocating on behalf of pilots and furthering the pilot-partisan strategy on issues that impact aviation safety and pilot careers.

This past December, the MEC elected new leaders: Capt. Bill Bartels, MEC chairman; Capt. Ryan Schnitzler, MEC vice chairman; Capt. Tom Brielmann, MEC secretary; and Capt. Tom Bell, MEC treasurer. The officers will serve a two-year term, which began on January 1.

The MEC and Delta pilots are committed to working together, unified as a powerful team, to achieve record contractual gains, defend the pilot working agreement, and uphold ALPA’s mission of safety.