Release #: 21.35
June 16, 2021

ALPA Calls for National Space Integration Strategy

McLEAN, Va.—Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) president Capt. Joe DePete testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on the need for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue working with industry and labor stakeholders to create a national space integration strategy that will ensure the safety of the national airspace, improve commercial spaceflight efficiency, and reduce emissions.

“The FAA forecasts an increase in U.S. launch activities by as much as 100 percent by 2025,” said DePete. “These predictions mean the FAA must build upon—and broaden—a pattern of collaboration by the aviation and aerospace sectors.”

Airline pilots face operational issues involving spaceflight, as recently demonstrated by uncontrolled space debris reentry events. DePete emphasized ALPA’s focus on ensuring that no new risks to airline operations are introduced by space operations and called for a national space integration strategy to include:

  • Establishing launch planning and recovery standards,
  • Creating standards to make certain reentry of very large pieces of space debris occurs at a predefined location and time, and
  • Requiring notification of pilots, airlines, and controllers not directly involved in a space launch about risk level changes in the airspace.

Additionally, ALPA called for the FAA to enhance collaboration by creating an advisory structure that brings together commercial space, drone, and aviation operators, which all use the airspace but currently provide input separately.

“As we consider the promise—but also the challenges—of increased spaceflight, the aviation and aerospace sectors have a proven model to follow to ensure safety,” said DePete. “A similar data-driven, risk-based construct will help create a proactive safety culture for commercial spaceflight.”

Read the full testimony.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 59,000 pilots at 35 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @ALPAPilots.


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