Air Safety Organization Groups and Other ALPA Committees Meet at Air Safety Forum

By ALPA Staff
ALPA’s first-ever Pilot Peer Support Symposium convened during the Association’s 66th Air Safety Forum for panel discussions, keynote speeches, and collaboration with outside experts.

ALPA’s 2022 Air Safety Forum opened on September 12 with two days of invitation-only meetings for the various groups under the four pillars of the Association’s Air Safety Organization (ASO)—Safety, Security, Pilot Assistance, and Jumpseat—and the Association’s Cargo and Remote Operations Committees.

ASO volunteers, along with government and industry experts, met to review recent priorities, view presentations regarding current issues, and discuss potential safety, security, pilot assistance, and jumpseat concerns that may be on the horizon.

Read on for reports on each of the forums, council meetings, and workshops.

First-Ever Pilot Peer Support Symposium

ALPA’s first-ever Pilot Peer Support Symposium convened on September 12–13 during the 66th Air Safety Forum. Nearly 70 individuals filled the ballroom and approximately 50 attendees joined virtually for two days of panel discussions, keynote speakers, and collaboration with outside experts.

F/O John Taylor (United), ALPA’s Pilot Assistance Group chair, welcomed attendees and thanked them for their time and efforts. “A spirit of continued collaboration is imperative to keep moving the aviation industry to the next level of supporting and promoting pilot wellness,” he remarked. Taylor observed that the symposium’s main goal was to bring together as many peer programs as possible from around the world to network and exchange ideas and practices.

Attendees heard from subject-matter experts on topics such as understanding mental health, finding a mental health professional, resiliency, how the Air Force is tackling the issue, mental health during the pandemic, and the importance of self-care. Panel discussions looked at adapting and supporting programs, understanding the different types of programs, and the need for currency in training.

Adding a personal connection to the topic, Capt. Carlos Vilella (FedEx Express) and Capt. Jonathan Pahl (United) each recalled their own path through ALPA’s Pilot Peer Support program and their reasons for giving back. Capt. Mike Strauss (JetBlue) shared how losing two pilot friends motivated him to become involved with Pilot Peer Support.

“It’s amazing to have all the passion, all the expertise in one room and just talk,” Taylor said. “Doing this alone isn’t possible.”

F/O Carrie Braun (JetBlue), the Pilot Peer Support chair, seconded Taylor’s comments. “We wouldn’t be able to do all we do without all your passion,” she remarked. “I’m truly grateful to all of you attending this week, coming together to help your fellow pilots.”

The pair closed the event by announcing that the symposium will become an annual event, with the next meeting anticipated for June 2023.

Security Council and Security Forum Convene

The ASO Aviation Security Group started the week with the Security Council meeting, discussing various aviation security initiatives, providing updates on previous activities, and reviewing the current aviation security environment. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced that there’s been an increase in crewmember violations, which has led to an increase in unpredictable screening procedures. Capt. Wolfgang Koch (Delta), ALPA’s Aviation Security chair, discussed the status of the Known Crewmember® program and efforts to collaborate with the TSA and A4A.

This year’s Security Forum consisted of various presentations, briefings, and panels covering a variety of current and ongoing security issues. Koch provided an update on current ALPA security work, and a Q&A session followed so that participants could ask questions and engage in discussions.

Attendees also received briefings from representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Air Marshal Service, the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, the FBI, Customs and Border Patrol, and more.

Jumpseat Forum and Council Meeting

The two-day Jumpseat Forum welcomed 64 attendees, including non-ALPA representatives, and included 10 informative panel presentations. Protecting the captain’s authority over the jumpseat remains a high priority for the ASO Aviation Jumpseat Group, along with training for newly hired airline pilots who’ve never used the jumpseat and are unfamiliar with jumpseat etiquette.

Following the Jumpseat Forum, the Jumpseat Council, which consists of the Jumpseat Committee chairs appointed by each master executive council (MEC), met the afternoon of September 13. The council discussed a variety of topics, including weight-optimized flights and improving the visibility of cargo flights on the Flight Finder function of ALPA’s mobile app.

Safety Council Meets

Capt. Brian Moynihan (Alaska) and Capt. Dave Gibson (WestJet), the Safety Council’s chair and vice chair, respectively, led a one-day meeting that included a brief history of the council for new members.

Multiple groups within the ASO provided updates on various subjects, including fatigue, accident investigation, Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)/Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) “crosstalk” efforts, professional standards, and dangerous goods. Each pilot group’s Safety Committee chair discussed current issues and how they’re being handled, with others sharing their perspectives and best practices.

Capt. Bob Fox, ALPA’s first vice president and national safety coordinator, also addressed the Safety Council, stressing the importance of building and supporting a “safety culture” through the continued use of safety management systems (SMS). “Communication is key to ALPA’s work,” he remarked.

Training Council and Human Factors & Training Group Hold Joint Meeting

Capt. Todd Lisak (JetBlue), ALPA’s Human Factors & Training (HFT) Group chair and Training Council chair, opened the meeting with introductions and a discussion of the forthcoming election for a new chair. F/O Abigail Pasmore (United), ALPA’s director of Human Factors, discussed the human factor concepts of Safety I, which is more linear, and Safety II, which is more proactive, and the importance of combining them. Committee members reviewed hot topics at their airlines and shared how they’ve resolved issues. At the meeting’s conclusion, Capt. Joshua Assayag (United) was elected the new chair.

Joint Safety Council, Training Council, and HFT Meet

Moynihan and Lisak welcomed almost 70 attendees from approximately 18 MECs. The daylong meeting brought together multiple safety-related groups for cross-conversation. Capt. Keith Phillips (United), ALPA’s Aviation Safety vice chair, and Capt. Jean-Claude Patchell (Jazz Aviation), ALPA’s Aviation Safety coordinator-Canada, both gave reports. In addition, attendees received briefings from ASO technical group chairs and from committees outside the ASO, including the Cargo Committee, the Airport & Ground Environment (AGE) Group, the Accident Analysis & Prevention (AAP) Group, the Air Traffic Services (ATS) Group, the Aircraft Design & Operations (ADO) Group, the HFT Group, and Training programs.

Canada Breakout Session

Canadian ALPA members met and received updates on safety and security issues and priorities for action in Canada, as well as briefings from the associate director general of Transport Canada, the chair of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, and senior managers from NAV CANADA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “This annual meeting is a unique opportunity for interaction between Canadian government and industry officials and ALPA members on both sides of our common border,” said Patchell, “and for members to exchange information directly with these officials.”

Cargo Committee and Dangerous Goods Meeting

Capt. Rich Hughey (FedEx Express), the Cargo Committee chair, led the first day’s conversations between ALPA and industry subject-matter experts, including those from the FAA, the Florida Institute of Technology, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Boeing, and Alaska Airlines. The group touched on the unique risks ALPA pilot groups are facing in today’s operational environment while carrying freight and various mitigation techniques based on the experiences of other industry stakeholders.

Capt. Scott Schwartz (FedEx Express), ALPA’s Dangerous Goods Program director, led day two, which covered the limitations of systems and procedures used to suppress fires in cargo compartments and the importance of properly conducting risk assessments on the items carried in those compartments. He also discussed proposals he presented to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Dangerous Goods Panel to reduce the state of charge of most lithium batteries transported by air. Schwartz noted that the proposals are still under consideration.

Remote Operations Committee Working Session

Capt. Peter Black (First Air), ALPA’s Remote Operations Committee chair, led a working session with airline representatives from Alaska, Calm Air, Canadian North, United, and Wasaya. The committee discussed expanding its membership to include more representatives from other ALPA pilot groups, regular operations into communities in the far north, and the adequacy of airports to serve as de-facto emergency diversion locations for long-haul polar flights. “As traffic levels recover from COVID, ALPA has a duty to inform pilots and airlines of the potential hazards that should be considered and mitigated,” said Black. The committee agreed to reconvene this fall to develop a work plan regarding the topics discussed.

AAP Workshop Presentations

The AAP Group workshop, led by F/O Jeff Mee (United), the group’s chair, included multiple presentations by subject-matter experts, including Schwartz, who discussed current dangerous goods issues; Capt. Dan Coogan (Delta), who reviewed the updated ASAP Advisory Circular; and Capt. Mike Schilz (Delta), who spoke about Joint Implementation Measurement Data Analysis Team issues. Mee also discussed ALPA’s opposition to the Canadian effort to install lightweight data recorders, a recent European Union Aviation Safety Agency study on data streaming, and ongoing International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) projects.

ADO Group Discussion

Nearly 30 ALPA safety representatives, aircraft manufacturers, and industry representatives, led by Capt. Bryan Lesko (United), the ADO Group chair, discussed current aircraft issues and how best to resolve them. They also covered hot topics such as the development of sustainable aviation fuels, upcoming changes to the master minimum equipment list, changes to fire-extinguishing application agents, the impact of 5G interference on aircraft altimeters, ice crystal flight testing, and various safety issues in the advanced air mobility ecosystem.

AGE Workshop Topics

Capt. Jeff Sedin (United), ALPA’s AGE Group chair, opened the workshop with an introduction and then segued into the Association’s airport safety liaison (ASL) program and its function within the ASO. He noted that the program is vital to ALPA as ASLs are the Association’s primary contacts with airport management. Sedin emphasized the need to find new ASLs due to volunteer turnover. During the meeting, the group also heard from subject-matter experts regarding aircraft rescue and firefighting and aqueous film-forming foam, the work of the FAA’s Office of Airports, Canadian and remote operations issues, and more.

ATS Group Discussions

During the ATS workshop, Capt. Douglas Willey (United), the ATS Group chair, and meeting attendees discussed new entrants into the national airspace system (NAS) and human factors operational issues impacting pilot workload on the flight deck. Representatives from the FAA, MITRE, ASTM International, and IFALPA all agreed that collaboration is essential to fully integrate NAS operations. “As new entrants and operational concepts evolve,” said Willey, “we must continue to foster collaboration forums and joint industry work groups to ensure that we understand each NAS stakeholder’s operational requirements, putting safety first and leveraging the lessons learned from over more than a century of flight.”

Aeromedical Chairs Meeting

ALPA’s Aeromedical Committee chairs met and discussed various topics, including infectious and emerging diseases, health trends among pilots, and the development of training for new committee members. The meeting gave aeromedical chairs the opportunity to share information and resources so that they can better guide their fellow pilots if a problem arises.

Accident Investigation Board Discussion

Capt. Steve Demko (United), ALPA’s Accident Investigation Board (AIB) chair, welcomed the group and noted that a more in-depth meeting would take place in spring 2023. He introduced Capt. Gregory Bulkley from the Boeing Company, who discussed recent events and lessons learned. Demko briefed the AIB on ongoing efforts to update Section 85 of ALPA’s Administrative Manual with regard to AIB policy and outlined several projects the AIB has on the horizon, including developing questions for the Advanced Accident Investigation Course.

Chief Accident Investigators Refresher

Demko welcomed ALPA accident investigators to the three-hour refresher meeting and gave an overview of the various guest speakers for the session, including representatives from the Transport Safety Board of Canada and the NTSB. Each guest speaker provided detailed and informative remarks. The group also reviewed watchlists, ALPA’s Accident Investigation Handbook, and the Association’s participation in operations technical groups during an investigation, among other topics.

Critical Incident Response Program Chairs Meet

Capt. John McFadden (United), the Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP) chair, provided an update on the program’s accomplishments during the pandemic, including training more than 140 peers at six CIRP classes, providing support to multiple crews following several events, conducting numerous drills, and attending meetings and conferences. CIRP’s goals include growing the teams at several ALPA pilot groups. McFadden thanked the chairs for their passion and remarked, “Working with our fellow pilot assistance leaders and committees has allowed us to provide an even greater level of support to our fellow pilots when they need it.”

Professional Standards Meeting

Capt. Tom Letson (Delta), ALPA’s Professional Standards Committee chair, led the meeting that included panel discussions regarding the types of cases volunteers may see. Attendees were also briefed by ALPA’s President’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion to help support a better understanding of ALPA’s initiative. Other topics included how social media use and pilot generational differences can affect a case and dealing with “compassion fatigue.” Prior to the meeting, nearly 40 pilots from 10 pilot groups attended Professional Standards 101 training.

Safety Information Analysis Program

Coogan, the Safety Information Analysis Program director, welcomed participants and then addressed the importance of an ASAP policy and procedures manual. He reviewed guidance and resources available to develop an ASAP manual, and the group examined ASAP best practices and the issue of parallel investigations. Attendees discussed ASAP and FOQA crosstalk and how trust from all parties is important. They also addressed situations in which airlines have fewer incidents during a specified time period and when pilot turnover prevents the completion of corrective action.

SMS Breakout

Capt. Helena Cunningham (Delta), ALPA’s SMS director, and Capt. Lucy Evans (Delta), her pilot group’s Central Air Safety Committee chair, held a breakout session on how SMS has evolved and why a positive safety culture is essential to a high-functioning SMS. Attendees developed an understanding of what a positive safety culture should look like, what it takes to create an environment in which a trust culture can prosper, and the challenges to creating a positive safety culture. The session closed with a role-playing exercise that allowed participants to practice solving various safety-culture issues through negotiation and cooperation.

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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