ALPA Leaders Address Critical NextGen Issues
During this week’s
“NextGen Ahead” conference sponsored by Aviation Week, ALPA Air Safety
Organization representatives Capt. Sean Cassidy and F/O Marc Henegar presented
the association’s views on several key NextGen issues. The Washington, D.C.,
conference drew attendance from government and industry organizations to discuss
topics across the full spectrum of NextGen operations.
Cassidy, ALPA first vice president and national safety coordinator,
summarized ALPA’s position on Remotely Piloted Aircraft integration in the
National Airspace System (NAS) as “first, do no harm,” which reflects ALPA’s
established view that unmanned aircraft should not be allowed unrestricted
access to the NAS until the aircraft, pilots, and operators meet the same level
of safety as all other NAS users.
Cassidy outlined the need for standards and technology development to
continue to support that goal. He recognized the potential value of some
proposed uses of RPA, but also cautioned that as for all NAS users, access to
and operation in the NAS must be contingent on maintaining One Level of Safety
for the NAS with the only difference being where the pilot sits.
Henegar, ALPA Air Traffic Services Group chair,
discussed the use of modern Flight Management Systems to help realize NextGen
benefits. That discussion covered a broad range of topics, including the
challenges of accommodating a wide variety of aircraft and equipment in the same
airspace, and the evolving roles of pilots and controllers in future air traffic
management. He illustrated how mixed aircraft equipage and capabilities present
challenges that can be safely overcome through training, operational support,
and procedure design.
In addition, Henegar participated in a panel discussion on the changes
needed in culture and training philosophy in order to take full advantage of
Performance Based Operations (PBN). PBN requires understanding, currency,
precision, and performance from pilots to be successful, as well as a “comfort
level” that comes from robust training.
In addition to the ALPA presenters, IFALPA president Capt. Don Wykoff
participated in a discussion of international issues related to NextGen. Among
these were the need for interoperability of equipment and procedures,
international environmental concerns, and progress toward internationally
harmonized standards for air traffic services.