Leadership From the Cockpit

Coordination and attention to detail play a crucial role for Capt. Erik Suter (Air Wisconsin) when he’s miles high in the sky as a CRJ200 pilot. However, these same skills are equally important when he’s firmly planted on the ground, seated on an organ bench performing to a captivated audience in a prestigious concert hall. Suter is an acclaimed organist who spends his off-duty time performing fugues and other classical compositions in beautiful cathedrals and concert halls around the world. 

At more than 150 airports across the United States and Canada, ALPA pilot representatives work with airport authorities to make certain that the airline pilot perspective is considered in decisions that could affect how planes operate on the ground and in the sky overhead. Across the North American continent, passengers and air cargo shippers benefit from the high standards of safety that result.


On Sunday, ALPA, along with millions of people in this country, took time to honor the nearly 3,000 lives lost on September 11, 2001. An important facet of ALPA’s “never forget, never again” focus is to advance the security of aviation operations as part of the 9/11 legacy. In the aftermath of the attacks, Congress mandated that reinforced flight deck doors be installed on passenger airliners. 

Unfortunately, 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 that they may be compromised by one or more intruders who could rush the flight deck.To address this unintended security loophole, another layer of safety, the “secondary barrier,” was developed by airlines for use whenever the cockpit door is open during flight.

In order to enhance security for passengers, pilots and the national defense, ALPA continues to be a leader in efforts to enact legislation that would require secondary barriers on all passenger aircraft. 

Categories: Safety, Industry

Capt. Victor Saracini, First Officer Michael Horrocks, First Officer LeRoy Homer, and Capt. Jason Dahl; Four ALPA members lost on September 11, 2001; Four extraordinary men still making a powerful impact on the lives of countless others.


It’s no secret that aviation today is the safest mode of transportation in the world. That incredible feat is due in part to a large coalition of key stakeholders, like ALPA, who work every day with industry and government to ensure that passenger and cargo air transport continues to maintain unprecedented levels of safety. One facet of that work includes keeping a close watch on how technology is being integrated into every aspect of aviation. Today, we are launching #TechTuesday, a new column here on Leadership from the Cockpit, to highlight the vital ways that pilots use technology on each and every flight, often unseen to the average passenger. 

Categories: Advocacy, Industry


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