ALPA’s Wide Field of View

By: Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA President

During World War I, a valuable new role for photography appeared through the lens of aviation: high-altitude military reconnaissance. The widening aperture of uses for aerial photography inspired Sherman Fairchild to look for an aircraft that gave pilots the stability and wide field of view to capture images while airborne. When the aircraft of the time failed to pass muster, Fairchild helped design a new plane—the FC-1, the first in a family of aircraft that featured a closed, heated cabin and fostered flight in some of the planet’s toughest environments.

This 7th photography issue of Air Line Pilot showcases how the environment for airline pilots is ever-changing and that stability and a wide field of view remain vital to pilots’ success, both in the cockpit and in our careers. From foul-weather forecasts to fourth-quarter financials, ALPA members are constantly vigilant, and we nimbly adapt plans and resources to make gains at every opportunity.

In late November, Encore pilots secured ALPA representation after a focused and unified organizing campaign (see page 8). With this action, the Encore pilots have strengthened the piloting profession in North America and immediately gain access to our union’s resources and expertise as they negotiate a legally binding collective agreement. In another show of unity, Endeavor pilots recently ratified a contract that converts one-time hiring and retention bonuses into higher rates of pay for the duration of a long-term agreement, marking historic progress (see page 10). The action overturns the out-of-touch pay, benefits, and career-advancement options that many fee-for-departure airlines have offered new pilots in the past and instead responds to a modern market with more competitive salaries.

Other evidence also shows that airline managements may finally be acknowledging the real reason why some companies fail to attract qualified pilots. For example, CommutAir has signed a new retention letter with increased pay rates and pay protection for its pilots. Similarly, an innovative approach at ExpressJet allows pilots with experience to start at a higher pay rate that reflects their years of service in the industry. We hope the management teams at all regional airlines not only take note but also take action to transform how new pilots are compensated in every area—pay, work rules, benefits, work-life balance, and career advancement.

Because no one is more committed than ALPA to ensuring we have an adequate supply of qualified pilots, we were pleased by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s recent announcement making it easier for veterans to become airline pilots. ALPA intends to partner with those who are working to promote the airline piloting profession, but we will adamantly oppose and fight any effort to create pathways that deviate from current safety standards. As passengers, cargo shippers, and key influencers are seeing in ALPA’s “Trained for Life” public-awareness campaign, our members stand behind the pilot training that keeps our skies the safest in the world.

In ALPA’s wide field of view, we’re watching many issues such as tax proposals, health-care developments, and safety, security, and pilot assistance policy shifts that may affect our members. We also look for threats from beyond our North American shores. At Ryanair, for example, the company is seeking to undermine its pilots’ ability to organize and bargain fair contracts. ALPA’s pilots have expressed strong solidarity with the Ryanair pilots in their fight.

As you’ll read in these pages, one of our strongest assets in adapting and preparing for emerging issues is our Major Contingency Fund (MCF). Often referred to our as “War Chest,” the MCF advances negotiations and strike preparedness but also helps ALPA achieve its members’ strategic goals including organizing and advocacy campaigns.

The FC-1 and its derivatives flew in diverse and rapidly changing environments––from South American jungles and the Canadian bush to the Antarctic ice shelves. Its stability and field of view created a new portrait of the compass and new potential for aviation. Likewise, our union provides a wide field of view for our members, and it’s their strategic goals that frame our union’s future.