November 09, 2015

Air Cargo Symposium Highlights Safety, Security Challenges

ALPA convened subject-matter experts from labor, industry, and government on November 5 to examine safety and security issues unique to all-cargo airline pilot operations. This Air Cargo Symposium, titled “Outside the Box: Better Ideas for Air Cargo Safety and Security,” offered a forum to discuss challenges and formulate the best ways to collectively resolve them. Nearly 200 individuals attended the event or watched online.

“Cargo pilots deliver goods to all corners of the globe in all kinds of weather and operating conditions,” said ALPA president Capt. Tim Canoll in his opening remarks. “By bringing together experienced stakeholders from throughout the industry, collectively, we can identify areas of all-cargo operations where safety and security improvements can and should be made.”

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta addressed the group about the efficiencies created by NextGen advances and the agency’s actions to put the Safety Management Systems (SMS) in place by 2018. “SMS will create a stronger voluntary safety culture,” he said, adding that participants will benefit from “internationally recognized best practices in the aviation industry.”

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Chris Hart reviewed the investigation of National Airlines Flight 102, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Bagram, Afghanistan, due to the improper securing of five large military vehicles positioned within the B-747-400. Hart said the NTSB recommended that the FAA develop a certification process for personnel responsible for the “loading, restraint, and documentation” of special cargo.

The cargo symposium featured four panel discussions—the safe transportation of hazardous materials; night transportation operations, human performance, and fatigue; aviation infrastructure needs; and mitigating risks. Panelists represented a broad spectrum of all-cargo interests including the FAA, NTSB, Airbus, Independent Pilots Association, and the Cargo Airline Association as well as subject-matter experts on aircraft rescue and firefighting, medical battery manufacturing, and human performance.

“There are numerous areas in which cargo operations lack some of the basic protections that passenger pilots can take for granted,” said Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s first vice president and national safety coordinator, who closed out the symposium. “We believe there is a demonstrated risk-management challenge facing all-cargo operations, and it must be addressed—and soon.”

For more coverage of the Air Cargo Symposium, read the December 2015 issue of Air Line Pilot magazine.