Keeping Volunteers and Members Properly Informed about Jumpseating

By John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer

Pilot turnover remains a concern for many of ALPA’s pilot groups as members who fly for smaller and midsize carriers transition to the majors. Maintaining some level of expertise and consistency within the union’s committee ranks has compelled pilot leaders to come up with creative solutions to ensure that (1) new volunteers are expeditiously prepared to perform their duties and (2) the union continues to provide the guidance and resources ALPA pilots have come to expect.

Individual pilot group Jumpseat Committees are no exception, which is particularly challenging because a large percentage of ALPA members routinely use the jumpseat to get to work.

To ensure that committee turnover doesn’t disrupt service to ALPA members, the Aviation Jumpseat structure within the Association’s Air Safety Organization is developing Jumpseat 101, a one-day class similar in presentation to ALPA’s Leadership Training Conference. The class will prepare new committee volunteers to assume their responsibilities as quickly as possible.

During the Jumpseat Forum and subsequent Jumpseat Council meeting that were held in conjunction with ALPA’s Air Safety Week in July, F/O Matthew Bises (Hawaiian), his pilot group’s Jumpseat Committee chair and one of the volunteers developing the course, spoke at length about this effort. He also solicited feedback, asking what should be included in the course. Aviation Jumpseat is working to have an initial training module available soon.

Supplementing Jumpseat 101, ALPA’s Jumpseat team has spearheaded centralizing information about pilot-in-command (PIC) authority and jumpseating on U.S. and Canadian airlines using a half dozen communications tools. These resources are accessible to both ALPA and non-ALPA members interested in off-line jumpseating or riding on the jumpseat of another airline.

Chief among these tools is our jumpseat website, which is a repository for cockpit jumpseat policies and listing procedures. The site covers eligibility and, when appropriate, differences in domestic vs. international listings. It also highlights Aviation Jumpseat’s mission statement to maintain PIC authority over flight deck access and jumpseat issuance, to use PIC authority and federal requirements to determine who is authorized to use the jumpseat, and to adhere to the appropriate procedures to protect the safety and security of the flight deck.

The website also houses other communications tools, including the union’s video “Jumpseat Etiquette? Yes, Please.”—which received the Association Media & Publishing EXCEL gold trophy for Digital Media Video Education this summer. The video explains how jumpseating is a privilege and not a right and reviews the guidelines and restrictions that must be observed while exercising this pilot privilege.

Capt. Joseph Chance (Envoy Air), ALPA’s jumpseat communications coordinator, recently noted that the video has had 70,000 views to date. He also said that the director of line operations for his airline routinely shares the video as part of his indoctrination for new-hire pilots.

Also posted on the website is ALPA’s Jumpseat Guide, which outlines the captain’s role, jumpseating as it relates to safety and security, international jumpseating, boarding priority for the flight deck, Transportation Security Administration restrictions, jumpseat etiquette, and information about the Cockpit Access Security System (CASS), which enables gate agents to search any participating airline’s personnel database to verify employee status for those authorized to use the cockpit jumpseat.

ALPA’s mobile app also provides an easy-to-access resource for pilots on off-line jumpseating, offering many of the same features as the website. In addition, questions, feedback, and reports regarding problems can either be directed to your Jumpseat Committee or e-mailed to NJC@alpa.org. ALPA’s new Data Action ReporT program (DART) will also be available to address jumpseating problems as they occur.

Aviation Jumpseat is continuously looking at ways to expand its current capabilities to better assist committee volunteers in order to keep ALPA members informed and to develop additional tools to make the jumpseat process more efficient. And as the nature of cockpit jumpseating evolves, the Aviation Jumpseat structure continues to evolve with it.

This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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