Our Union: Working Ever Faster

By Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA President

Mario Andretti’s remark, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough,” reflects the fascination and affinity that many of us have for speed. As airline pilots, however, we’re always focused on control—even when we fly at Mach 0.78 or 600 miles an hour.

As aviators, we constantly work to stay mentally in front of our aircraft. We think ahead to counter trouble and anticipate opportunity. In this vein, WestJet pilots seized the opportunity in May to vote in favor of joining ALPA after a focused campaign that began when the pilots approached our union about representation options. We feel proud to welcome aboard the 1,400-plus pilots of WestJet.

As a union, we also focus on staying ahead of our industry and intercepting policy proposals that could harm aviation—or the piloting profession. As Congress begins FAA reauthorization, for example, ALPA is defending hard against any effort to erode current safety-based minimum first officer experience, qualification, and training requirements.

As part of the FAA reauthorization debate, ALPA has also reinforced our long-held position that, while air traffic control restructuring may present an opportunity to secure a much-needed source of reliable, predicable, and sufficient funding, any new organization must be centered on safety and not only sufficiently but fairly funded.

Recently, our union also launched a new outreach initiative to do more to inform the public about shipping undeclared dangerous goods, including lithium batteries, by air. On the USA Today editorial page and elsewhere, ALPA has made clear that we’re working to ensure that decision-makers understand the safety risk posed by a potential inflight lithium battery fire in the cargo hold.

ALPA is also in front advancing safety in Canada. Our efforts include a continued press to implement a one-year timeline for flight- and duty-time regulations that apply to all professional pilots. We were on Parliament Hill in May and testified before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities. We’ve also joined with the Air Canada Pilots Association, Unifor, and Teamsters Canada to speak out against any move to weaken these long-overdue regulations.

As pilots pursuing a career, we also work to stay ahead of our industry—especially new threats to fair competition. At a May 24 news conference on Capitol Hill, I joined Members of Congress and the Association of Flight Attendants to call on the Trump administration to aggressively enforce U.S. trade agreements and level the playing field.

We’re continuing to fight flag-of-convenience business models in the airline industry, including Norwegian Air International (NAI). In May, ALPA, joined by several other unions, filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as part of our union’s effort to overturn the decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Obama administration to permit NAI to serve the United States.

More broadly, the U.S. House has introduced ALPA-backed legislation to help stop the proliferation of airline flag-of-convenience business models in the United States. ALPA members have an opportunity to help—join our Call to Action in support of H.R. 2150, the Flags of Convenience Don’t Fly Here Act.

As individuals, airline pilots also watch for signs that our external environment may be getting ahead of us, and we find help. During this year’s ALPA Pilot Assistance Forum, our union showcased the resources and results that the Pilot Assistance Group and its five subgroups make possible for our members. Through the extraordinary leadership of Capt. Jerry McDermott (United), who recently announced he will step down as Pilot Assistance chair at the end of the year, ALPA’s volunteers are helping pilots excel as never before.

In a political, economic, and digital environment that often moves at Mach 0.78, ALPA’s strategic plan provides clear direction as we address each development to our pilots’ best advantage. No matter the speed of change, our union works ever faster to expertly advance our members’ goals.