Executive Board Acts to Thwart Late-Breaking Legislative Threat, Welcomes New Pilot Groups

By John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer
Members of ALPA’s Executive Board convene at the union’s Herndon, Va., Conference Center to discuss issues critical to the Association.

Tackling challenges and threats to the Association is one of the critical roles ALPA’s Executive Board performs on behalf of its members. During the recent 122nd regular meeting of the union’s master executive council (MEC) chairs, national officers, and executive vice presidents, the Executive Board acted with swift and unanimous resolve.

In response to an eleventh-hour legislative attack on aviation safety, the Executive Board passed a resolution authorizing ALPA’s president “to use the full force and resources of the Association” to remove Section 744 from the U.S. House of Representatives proposed version of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. While the Association supports much of what the House version outlines, the bill also calls for establishing a research and development program to study the practicality of single-piloted cargo aircraft assisted with remote-piloting or computer-piloting technology.

“At the eleventh hour and with no advanced notice, a dangerous provision was inserted into the House FAA reauthorization bill by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to push for single-piloted and computer-piloted operations of cargo airliners,” Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president, remarked. “No notice, no testimony, no deliberation. This is an attack on our profession, passenger and cargo operations alike. ALPA will use every resource we have to ensure that this antisafety provision is not enacted.”

The Executive Board also authorized an allocation from the Association’s Major Contingency Fund (MCF), also known as ALPA’s “war chest,” for additional advocacy efforts to ensure that the final FAA reauthorization bill does not include this provision.

New faces

During the meeting, the board recognized ALPA’s two newest pilot groups—WestJet Encore and Kalitta Air—to the Association. Canoll recounted the circumstances leading to each group’s official recognition of ALPA as its bargaining agent before he invited WestJet Encore MEC secretary-treasurer Capt. Chris Darbel (serving as proxy holder for MEC chair F/O Ryan Petrie) and Kalitta Air MEC chair Capt. Doug Pearce to ceremoniously take their places at the table among their ALPA Executive Board peers.

Providing the meeting’s keynote address, David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and a retired U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral, discussed TSA efforts to implement more advanced screening technologies for passengers and cargo. On average, the TSA screens 2.2 million passengers each day. Pekoske talked about the recent use of computed tomography technology, which greatly enhances the organization’s “ability to visually inspect the contents of carry-on bags for explosives and prohibited items.”

He also commented on the ongoing importance of the agency’s collaboration with ALPA on the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, the Federal Air Marshal Service, and Known Crewmember

National officer reports

“Unions must bring all elements working in our trade into one organization, for the wrongs heaped upon one element today are merely the precursor for another tomorrow,” said Canoll, citing former American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers in his opening remarks to the Executive Board.

Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA President

He referenced the historic labor leader several times during his presentation, highlighting the ongoing need for unions to bring balance and fairness to the workplace. ALPA’s president also provided an update on the Association’s latest activities and accomplishments, including stressing the need to maintain minimum U.S. first officer qualification, training, and experience requirements in the latest FAA reauthorization bill before Congress. “I testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Aviation that flying experience simply cannot be simulated in training,” said Canoll, adding, “It’s learned only from time spent at the controls, something everyone in this room understands.”

Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s first vice president and national safety coordinator, discussed the work of ALPA’s Air Safety Organization (ASO), particularly ALPA’s efforts with the U.S. Commercial Aviation Safety Team and the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing programs to reduce the risk of fatal accidents.

“Helping our pilots is the crux of the national Pilot Peer Support program, which is in the final stages of development,” said DePete, who noted that this new component of the ASO’s Pilot Assistance Group plans to offer initial training classes during the private-day sessions of the Association’s upcoming Air Safety Forum. He observed that this new resource “will provide support to our members who are dealing with issues in their personal lives that could affect their professional performance.” The program is anticipated to launch later this year and will be highlighted in more detail in the next issue of Air Line Pilot.

“Education, Leadership, and Membership continue to be some of the most active committees at ALPA,” said Capt. Bill Couette, ALPA’s vice president−administration/secretary, who noted that the Association recently established its newest ACE Club at Arizona State University. “We now have 11 formal relationships with colleges and universities, and others are lining up,” he observed.

As part of his report, Couette highlighted ALPA’s recent information technology developments, including a revised version of the ALPA mobile app, expected to be available later this summer; implementation of business software Tableau to improve the performance and functionality of membership reporting; and the relocation of ALPA’s computer systems to a hosting facility near Washington Dulles International Airport to improve security and reduce costs.

Capt. Randy Helling, ALPA’s vice president–finance/treasurer, spoke at length about ALPA’s strong financial standing and the “diligence and discipline we’ve shown in allocating our financial resources to position our union for the future.” He also acknowledged ALPA’s growth, commenting that the union experienced a 62 percent increase in dues income from 2012 to 2016.

Helling reported that the Association’s robust financial performance has enabled the union to recapitalize the MCF and to pursue the much-needed system modernization effort Project AMBER. “We’ve taken positive steps to ensure that we’ll be in a good place to deal with any challenges that might come,” he commented.

Watch the full reports from the national officers.

Additional business

During the meeting’s plenary session, ALPA’s Executive Board took time to honor Capt. Jerry McDermott (United), recognizing him with a special plaque for his eight years of service as the Association’s Pilot Assistance chair.

Canoll praised McDermott’s admirable approach, noting, “In a respectful way, he never once strayed from doing what was right, regardless of how difficult it was. And each of the leaders in the Pilot Assistance Group knew—without a shadow of a doubt—that he was their champion. The qualities he possesses would certainly come in handy for our politicians on the Hill and in Parliament, and I only wish they had a fraction of Jerry’s sense of fairness and commitment to his word.”

In a dozen resolutions, the Executive Board approved revised Administrative Manual language addressing the union’s position on ground-based navigational approaches, enhanced ground proximity warning systems, and electronic flight bags among other safety topics in light of ongoing developments. The board also acted on new policies to address paperless meetings and local executive council expenses.

Between plenary sessions, board members divided into delegate committees to review and discuss resolutions before they were put to a vote. They also revisited the goals, objectives, and initiatives of ALPA’s strategic plan and received related updates from national committees and Association subject-matter experts. The next Executive Board will convene later this year in September.

This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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