Leadership From the Cockpit

By Capt. Tim Canoll

Flightcrew members across North America know the benefits of being represented by the world’s largest pilot union. In Canada, pilots from Air Transat, Bearskin, Calm Air, Canadian North, First Air, Jazz Aviation, Kelowna Flightcraft, and Wasaya are active ALPA advocates for aviation safety and security.

ALPA pilots are committed to improving issues that affect the Canadian aviation sector. Last fall, the elections in Canada resulted in a unique opportunity to help create a better business environment and improve the overall state of the industry. In December, some of those recently elected representatives, as well as established government representatives and industry stakeholders, gathered in Ottawa for an annual ALPA event, which gave us a perfect opportunity to discuss our upcoming priorities in Canada with key officials. 

Tags: Canada

By Captain Jerry Timmerman, Delta B737

Fifteen years ago, at the end of a prosperous decade, our planet was thrown into chaos when four U.S. passenger airplanes were hijacked and turned into missiles. Emotional, economic, and enduring scars from September 11th, 2001 are with us still. As a country, we vowed then to never let such a tragedy happen again, which is why we must mandate secondary barriers on all commercial passenger aircraft now.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, we upgraded our security systems. Cultural and physical changes were made, studied, adjusted, and re-implemented in order to create the risk-based, layered security approach we have now. Today, we have hardened cockpit doors, Transportation Security Officers at every entrance point, and the Federal Flight Deck Officers program, but we still lack one key layer in our aviation security structure: mandatory secondary barriers.

Categories: Pilot Partisan

By Capt. Tim Canoll

Making it safer to fly shipments of lithium batteries that power everything from laptops to mobile phones is a top priority for all ALPA pilots. We aren’t asking to limit or prohibit the individual batteries that passengers carry on board a plane in personal electronic devices; we’re talking about shipments of raw batteries that are transported aboard aircraft as cargo. 

Lithium batteries pose a significant safety threat to air transportation because they can self-ignite when damaged, defective, or exposed to a heat source. Recent tests by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that as few as eight lithium-ion batteries contained in a pallet shipment can contribute to an explosion on board an aircraft. Unlike a fire on a car or truck, it’s not possible to pull over when you’re flying at 35,000 feet.

By Captain Chuck Dyer, FedEx  MEC Chairman

My fellow pilots at FedEx are engaged in a struggle that I believe poses one of the greatest threats to our pilots’ health and professional welfare imaginable. As you may recall, a few years back, UPS Flight 6 caught fire in the skies of Arabia a few minutes after takeoff, and before the crew could safely land the aircraft, both pilots perished and the aircraft was lost. It was discovered that this fire was caused by lithium batteries—to be clear, more than 80,000 lithium batteries. That’s right, more than 80,000 of them.

Categories: Advocacy, Pilot Partisan

This week, United Airlines pilots took to Capitol Hill as part of ALPA’s efforts to mandate secondary barriers on passenger aircraft. Secondary barriers are lightweight devices that are easy to deploy and stow, installed between the passenger cabin and the cockpit door, that block access to the flight deck whenever the reinforced door is opened in flight. 

After the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament mandated that airlines replace standard cockpit doors with hardened doors on certain types of airliners. However, practical experience using these doors soon revealed a critical vulnerability—the reinforced door must be periodically opened during flight for pilots’ operational and physiological needs, which means they may be compromised by one or more terrorists who could rush the flight deck. To address this unintended security lapse, a secondary barrier was developed by airlines for use whenever the cockpit door is open during flight. 

Government and industry studies have shown that secondary cockpit barriers are an effective, inexpensive way to protect our aircraft during flight when the cockpit door must be opened. The current alternative—a flight attendant acting as a human shield with or without a serving cart—is not an acceptable layer of security. 

Categories: Advocacy, Pilot Partisan


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