Release #: 16.12
April 19, 2016
ALPA Supports Senate FAA Reauthorization Bill
More Action Needed to Safeguard Passengers and Air Cargo
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) supports the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization (H.R. 636) passed in the Senate today as a positive, safety-focused measure that reflects its bipartisan commitment to ensuring the FAA’s role as aviation safety regulator. As the world’s largest nongovernmental aviation safety organization, ALPA also challenges Congress to do more to address risks such as inadequately regulated lithium battery shipments and fatigue among pilots who fly cargo.
“ALPA commends Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) for their bipartisan leadership in advancing a strong FAA reauthorization that sets the stage for enhancing the safety of air transportation in the United States,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president. “We are pleased with the reauthorization’s clear focus on safety as evidenced by the fact that it maintains current safety-based first officer qualification and training regulations.”
The current first officer qualification and training requirements were prompted by Congress following investigations of multiple fatal airline accidents in which the pilots’ lack of flight experience and training were factors. There has not been a fatal commercial aircraft accident attributed to inadequate pilot qualifications or training since the regulations took effect.
“We are also encouraged that the Senate FAA reauthorization mandates full harmonization of domestic regulations for shipping lithium batteries by air with new international safety standards,” said Capt. Canoll.
Lithium batteries pose a significant safety threat to air transportation because they can self-ignite and the fire they create cannot be extinguished by standard fire suppression systems. The Senate FAA reauthorization requires full harmonization of U.S. regulations with those in effect internationally, achieving one element in ALPA’s determined effort to safely transport lithium batteries by air.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) technical instructions temporarily ban all lithium batteries from being carried as cargo on passenger aircraft until appropriate shipping standards are developed. Further, all lithium-ion batteries carried on all-cargo flights are limited to a maximum 30 percent charge, and the instructions prohibit “overpacks,” a loophole whereby an unlimited number of packages of batteries could be shipped together in the same box to circumvent dangerous goods regulations.
“We will continue to work with Congress and the international community to develop appropriate shipping protocols so that a fire caused by the unsafe shipment of lithium batteries will never again bring down an aircraft,” continued Capt. Canoll.
The Senate FAA reauthorization also takes aviation security a significant step forward by mandating physically installed secondary batteries on all new commercial passenger aircraft. “Secondary cockpit barriers are a common-sense solution to enhance aviation security,” said Capt. Canoll. “ALPA thanks Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) for leading the effort to require these cost-effective barriers to protect the flight deck when the hardened cockpit door is opened.”
ALPA also supported an amendment introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to require science-based fatigue regulations for all-cargo operations and is disappointed the amendment was not adopted. “While the Senate FAA reauthorization is a positive step, ALPA is concerned that the measure does not call for science-based fatigue regulations for pilots who fly cargo,” concluded Capt. Canoll.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 52,000 pilots at 30 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org