Five Questions for ALPA’s Safety Council Chair

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By Christopher Freeze, Senior Aviation Technical Writer
Capt. Brian Moynihan (Alaska), the ASO’s Safety Council chair, is ALPA’s lead on exchanging and sharing safety data and the council’s role in improving aviation safety around the globe.

Editor’s note: This column showcases the efforts of a cross section of ALPA pilots who volunteer their time and talents to advocate for the union’s priorities and the cadre of knowledgeable and passionate staff specialists who support them.

The primary responsibility of ALPA’s Air Safety Organization (ASO) Safety Council is the sharing of information, experiences, and strategies among master executive council (MEC) Central Air Safety Committee chairs who are tasked with promoting the safety of flight operations by providing pilot input regarding safety decisions.

Air Line Pilot sat down with Capt. Brian Moynihan (Alaska), the ASO’s Safety Council chair, to learn more about the pilot who serves as the Association’s lead on exchanging and sharing safety data and the council’s role in improving aviation safety worldwide.

 

1. How did you get into aviation/flying?

Capt. Brian Moynihan: My dad was an aviator for the U.S. Navy, so I’ve always been around airplanes and pilots. When I was eight years old, my dad took me flying over Daytona Beach, Fla., in a small Cessna 172. I remember being blown away by the seemingly omnipotent view of the world, and I didn’t want the flight to end! I was so eager to stay in the air that I started pulling back on the yoke as my dad was landing the airplane. For a moment, my dad thought his controls were binding. That was my first lesson on the importance of having only one pilot-in-command.

2. How did you first become involved with ALPA work?

Moynihan: I’d say I was more lucky than good when it came to getting involved with ALPA work. In 1998, I joined Comair’s Central Air Safety Committee. Capt. Mitch Serber was not only our committee chair, but he was also the Association’s Safety Council chair. It was called the Operations Committee, or “OpsCom,” back then. Capt. Todd Gunther was ALPA’s Accident Investigation Board chair. He’s now at the NTSB. I learned so much from these incredibly talented safety experts.

I didn’t follow a direct line to the ALPA work that I’m now doing. I previously held various positions like Communications Committee chair, database administrator, Seattle status representative, and Aviation Safety Action Program Event Review Committee chair. These positions gave me well-rounded experience regarding how ALPA helps our pilots. But every path to national-level roles within ALPA differs for each pilot who volunteers.

3. What are your roles and responsibilities as the Safety Council chair?

Moynihan: The Safety Council is made up of the Central Air Safety Committee chairs from every ALPA pilot group. We come together at least twice a year to collectively promote aviation safety within ALPA and the aviation industry and capitalize on the synergy of ALPA MECs working together to address common safety issues. The Safety Council brings line-pilot perspectives to the ASO and helps assess how effectively it serves our members. In addition, the Safety Council is a vital resource for providing pilot volunteers to take part in safety projects and to serve on various technical groups like safety management systems, human factors, and other evolving areas.

My role on the Safety Council is relatively straightforward. I plan and facilitate our meetings. Between meetings, I represent all Central Air Safety Committee chairs on the national level. When ALPA’s national leaders have safety questions, I help facilitate responses from the Safety Council. I also help execute action items and safety resolutions. The knowledgeable and passionate Safety Council members, along with the Association’s dedicated staff members, really make this job rewarding.

4. How do ALPA national and staff help you achieve your goals?

Moynihan: In my decades of volunteering for ALPA, I’ve seen many changes in national leadership. This has given me firsthand experience on what a difference it makes to have safety a priority of our national officers. Starting with Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s president, and working down the chain, that support has been rock solid. In addition, ALPA staff experts provide substantial institutional knowledge that’s essential to implementing our safety initiatives. They also provide regular updates on developing safety threats within our industry and around the globe.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, ALPA national has demonstrated just how effective it truly is. As an example, during the early days of the pandemic, leadership and staff convened a group of aeromedical, pilot assistance, and safety experts to identify the problems we were facing and develop plans to work with industry and government to protect both the safety and health of our pilots.

5. What advice would you give to new pilots who want to get involved with ALPA?

Moynihan: If ALPA work sounds interesting to you—and from my perspective, it truly is—the obvious first step is to contact your MEC leaders. This part is easy because most MECs have a robust onboarding process for new volunteers.

I found that the next step, the initial undertaking of ALPA work, is the hardest for most new volunteers. But without a doubt, my most effective committee members aren’t those with great experience or knowledge. The critical factor is passion! If you have passion and a willingness to learn, we have industry-leading training classes to teach you what you need to know. There are many projects both at your airline and nationally that you can take part in and have a positive impact. The people doing the work of the Association, advancing the causes of organized labor and aviation safety, are the finest people you’ll ever meet, and the work is incredibly rewarding. So jump in. You’ll be glad you did!

ALPA’s Safety Council

The Association’s Safety Council promotes flight operations safety throughout the aviation industry by providing line-pilot input into safety decisions and oversees the Central Air Safety Committee chairs of ALPA’s pilot groups.

A typical meeting of the council may include briefings and discussion on a wide range of topics from aviation safety data programs and data fusion to environmental issues to fume events on the flight deck.

Meetings of the Safety Council are frequently held jointly with ALPA’s Training Council, as many informational briefings from outside subject-matter experts are of interest to members of both councils. The next meeting of these groups will be at ALPA’s Air Safety Forum in September.

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

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