Release #: 18.30
August 02, 2018
ALPA Honors Capt. Greg Rooney with Superior Airmanship Award
Las Vegas Pilot Recognized for Extraordinary Commitment to Passenger Safety
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) today honored Las Vegas resident and Delta Air Lines Captain Greg Rooney, in addition to his crewmates Captains Paul Wilkinson and Jay Arnett, with the prestigious ALPA Superior Airmanship Award for his extraordinary efforts in performing an emergency landing after an inflight engine failure on a transpacific night flight.
“Capitalizing on years of training and flight experience, Captain Rooney lead the efforts to skillfully steer all passengers and fellow crewmembers to safety,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA president. “The dedication, professionalism, and calmness under pressure of Captains Rooney, Wilkinson, and Arnett as they rerouted away from others in the sky to keep the aircraft from harm is a true testament of how pilot training and expertise help make aviation the safest form of transportation in the world. We applaud their steadfast professionalism and their ability to manage a stressful situation in the harsh cold and with limited support.”
On Jan. 14, 2017, with more than 250 passengers and crewmembers onboard, Delta Air Lines Flight 68 took off from Tokyo-Narita, bound for Portland, Ore., on what would typically be a nine-hour flight.
Capt. Rooney, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who has flown for Delta Air Lines nearly 30 years, and First Officer Paul Wilkinson, who has since upgraded to captain, were in the cockpit when five hours into the flight they both noticed a sudden and complete loss of oil pressure on the #2 engine. First Officer Jay Arnett, who has also since upgraded to captain, immediately returned to the flight deck, and together, the three crewmembers conducted emergency checklist procedures while redirecting the plane’s flight path away from other airline traffic.
After shutting down the malfunctioning engine, the crew began a slow descent and selected Cold Bay, Alaska, to divert the aircraft. Working seamlessly, the flight crew communicated effectively with Air Traffic Control, Delta Air Lines Dispatch, and the cabin crew and passengers before completing a safe emergency landing at Cold Bay—but that was only the beginning.
Familiar to the plot of the recent Broadway musical Come from Away, the crew found themselves grounded at a frigid and remote airfield with limited support facilities near only a small village with a population of around 100. The challenges faced by the crew and their 252 passengers were unimaginable. Amidst the cold and wind, Capt. Rooney led the flight crew in coordinating the movement of some passengers to the airport terminal and a nearby recreational center, while the rest remained on the airplane. The three pilots then split duties between the locations and foraged for food to help keep the passengers in good spirits for the next six hours until a replacement aircraft arrived.
“Captains Rooney, Wilkinson, and Arnett demonstrated exactly the kind of airmanship we ask every pilot to have. The training and experience each called upon in that moment of need, as well as the class and candor they exhibited in a truly unexpected situation, are a testament as to what this award celebrates,” said Capt. Bill Bartels, chairman of the Delta unit of ALPA. “The successful outcome of Flight 68 highlights the importance of having well-trained, highly skilled, professional pilots who can deftly work together to respond to emergency situations.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 60,000 pilots at 34 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org