Training North America’s Pilots

By Capt. Chuck Hogeman, ALPA’s Air Safety Organization Safety Chair

Providing airline pilots with the highest standards of training has played no small role in making North American airline transportation the safest mode of mass transit in history.  Part of that training should ensure that pilots demonstrate their ability to serve as pilot-in-command at multiple stages of their career. Passengers and the shipping public expect nothing less—in fact, they count on U.S. and Canadian airline pilots’ receiving the training and experience they need to perform their jobs.

I recently represented ALPA at the Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE) in Dubai, and participated on a panel about pilot training. GATE is held annually to discuss the challenges of meeting the demand for pilots and maintenance personnel in the Middle East.

Participating in this event is just the latest example of how ALPA works not only across the continent, but also around the globe, to shape and secure the training standards and philosophies that we believe are necessary for airline pilots to meet safety challenges in today’s complex environment. Our union also constantly engages with regulators and industry to seek out opportunities to predict future challenges and identify ways to advance safety through enhancements to existing training programs.

Pilots today must be able to handle the unexpected on a routine basis. They receive a broad range of training in many areas—from aerodynamics and high-altitude operations to flying in adverse weather such as thunderstorms and icing. Adequate academic training and flight experience are both necessary to develop the required skills, judgment, and discipline.

North America is fortunate to have many thousands of qualified pilots who can fly as crewmembers for passenger and cargo shippers serving communities of all sizes around the globe. Safety must be the top priority as our industry works to keep the pilot supply strong in the future. ALPA advocates for the United States and Canada to maintain their world-leading pilot training standards, which are presently under attack by some airlines.

Airline pilots should never be trained to the “bare minimum” of knowledge, proficiency, and experience. Our industry has learned from history that sound training and licensing standards for airline pilots are essential to maintain the highest possible safety standards.

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