Leadership From the Cockpit
ALPA pilots were on Capitol Hill this week as the U.S. federal government took steps to avert a shutdown and Congress extended the current authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) until March 31, 2016.
It is indeed good news that the FAA’s authorization has been extended, but this week’s temporary fix is just the latest example of Congress’s long history of stop-and-start funding for the agency. While erratic reauthorization has made it challenging for the FAA to implement necessary safety and air traffic system upgrades, the progress made during its most recent three-year reauthorization offers a taste of the advancement that stable funding makes possible. For example, over the last three years, the FAA made significant strides in air traffic flow and coordination through en route automation modernization (ERAM) and gained safety, environmental, and efficiency benefits through a number of NextGen initiatives such as ADS-B and performance-based navigation implementation.
On Saturday, September 26, ALPA and the world’s aviation community celebrated Girls in Aviation Day, an international event sponsored by Women in Aviation International.
From Atlanta, Ga., to Ypsilanti, Mich., ALPA pilots were front and center in commemorating the day. Girls in Aviation Day is designed to give girls an opportunity to connect with other girls and women who are interested in aviation, explore careers in the aviation and aerospace industry, and experience firsthand what it’s like to be a pilot or other aviation industry professional.
As airline pilots, most of us felt the passion to fly from an early age—we knew we wanted to fly almost before we could walk. But understanding how to follow that passion required information and role models to show the way. Events like Girls in Aviation Day provide girls of all ages with the opportunity to meet pilots and other aviation professionals to learn about their real-word experiences and to ask questions in an encouraging environment.
Education is one important element in ALPA’s four-part solution to safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace. As a result, this week, ALPA joined the “Know Before You Fly” campaign, a public initiative designed to inform those interested in flying an unmanned aircraft about the safe and responsible operation of UAS.
Airline pilots are highly trained to remain vigilant every day for any opportunity to mitigate threats in the cockpit. Currently, a different kind of threat is looming on the horizon—a threat that, if we do not take action to correct it now, will inflict real damage on not just pilots but all working Americans. That hazard is the upcoming health-care excise tax—more commonly referred to as the “Cadillac tax”—and we must take action now to avert it.
Many people in the world live their whole lives without having a voice in how their governments are run. While I always feel grateful to live in a country where I can vote for the people who govern me, I feel it most at this time of year, when you can’t listen to the news without hearing the word “election.”
I grew up in a strong union family. I have the same sense of appreciation for how unions like ALPA are run. In fact, as ALPA’s vice president–administration/secretary, I don’t think many people are more involved than I am in the details of our union’s democracy. Our union is rooted in fair elections and, as I tell almost everyone I meet, it is everyone’s responsibility to vote.