Mack Moore
Footprints All Over the Airport

The 2001 ALPA Air Safety Award honors a United captain and line pilot air safety representative for years of dedicated service to pilots and the traveling public.

Air Line Pilot, September/October 2002, p.12

By Jan W. Steenblik, Technical Editor

A couple of years ago, Capt. Paul Eschenfelder (Northwest), ALPA Airport Safety and Standards director, picked up a copy of Condé Nast Traveler magazine.

"[Mack] would see something on his horizon and just go out and take care of it."
—Capt. John J. "Bud" Ruddy (United, Ret.)

"In it was an article on aviation safety," he recalls. "Featured in the article was [Capt.] Mack Moore [United] and the Boeing 737 rudder control system. The article was talking about the ‘Mack Moore unit.’

"I thought, ‘He’s everywhere! He has his footprints all over the airport, and now an airplane component has been named after him!’

Capt. Eschenfelder continues, "I’ve been to IFALPA [International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations] meetings in which airport standards issues came up—signs, markings, lightings, so forth. The conversation stops, and everybody turns and looks at Mack to hear what he has to say.

"It’s like those television commercials for E.F. Hutton—‘When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.’ That’s Mack. His position becomes the IFALPA position."

Says a former United Airlines flight manager, "The more you dig, the more you find out about Mack’s role in aviation safety work that you had no idea he was involved in. He’s so reluctant to toot his own horn, most people—even his fellow United pilots—have no idea how much influence he’s had."

That should change.

On August 22, during an awards banquet at the annual ALPA Air Safety Forum in Washington, D.C., the Association’s president, Capt. Duane Woerth, presented to Capt. Moore the 2001 ALPA Air Safety Award, the Association’s highest honor for a line pilot volunteer for aviation safety work. The plaque honors Capt. Moore for "significant contributions to flight safety while representing the best interests of airline pilots through his many years of service as chairman of the ALPA Airport Ground Environment Group and leadership of the Regional Safety Committee and Airport Liaison Programs."

A plaque can only begin to tell the full story.

A $10 bet

Mack Moore was born in 1943 in Takoma Park, Md., a suburb on the north side of Washington, D.C. He grew up in the Maryland suburbs and graduated from Northwood High School in Silver Spring in 1961.

After high school, Moore joined the U.S. Army for a 3-year hitch. He was an officer’s assignment clerk, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, and made 26 jumps.

"I’d wanted to fly since I was 12," Capt. Moore recalls. "I got my first airplane ride on a Capitol DC-3. It was a Civil Air Patrol charter, from Washington, D.C., to Patrick Henry Field in Newport News, Va. We went to a CAP camp at Langley Air Force Base."

Acting on a New Year’s resolution, Capt. Moore took his first flying lesson on Jan. 2, 1964, in a Piper J-3 owned and operated by the Ft. Bragg Flying Club. He passed the private pilot checkride in a Cessna 140. "My mother was my first passenger," he remembers. "That was in March 1964."

In August of that year, he earned his commercial pilot certificate, one day before he was discharged from the Army. He got a job working for a local fixed-base operator, flying charters in singles and light twins.

Moore joined United Airlines to win a $10 bet with another FBO employee. He wasn’t actually interested in the job; the chief pilot at Washington National Airport who interviewed him talked him into giving the idea some serious consideration. He did, and pilots everywhere and the traveling public are the better for it.

In January 1965, the newly minted Second Officer Moore, based in Newark, N.J., began flying on United DC-6s. Over the past 37 years, he has worked his way up through the fleets and seats—Boeing 727s, 737s, and 757/767s—and has been based in Washington, D.C., Miami, and Chicago. Since August 1996, he’s been a B-747-400 captain based at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Airport Standards Committee

Capt. John J. "Bud" Ruddy (United, Ret.), who received the 1981 ALPA Air Safety Award, was based in Washington, D.C. He was active in United Council 11’s Local Air Safety Committee and on ALPA’s Airports Committee, later named the Airport Standards Committee and now the ALPA Airport and Ground Environment (AGE) Group, in keeping with IFALPA and ICAO structure and terminology.

Capt. Ruddy recruited one of his young copilots—Mack Moore—to become actively involved in ALPA air safety work. Moore began with a small but clear safety issue.

"I noticed once when we flew into Baltimore that some trees blocked the pilots’ view of the approach end of Runway 15 (now 15R) when taxiing toward the apron on Taxiway F after landing on Runway 10," Capt. Moore recalls. "I talked to the airport manager about it, and the next time I flew into BWI, the trees had been cut down."

He quickly adds, "They’d probably been planning to cut the trees for months, and it was just a coincidence that they cut them down soon after my meeting with the airport manager."

Capt. Ruddy disagrees emphatically. "I had a great deal of respect for the way Mack dealt with people. He often had to win over people who didn’t like pilots and weren’t interested in hearing pilots’ opinions.

"It takes somebody with the appropriate personality to do this kind of work," Capt. Ruddy explains. "Mack didn’t go into a meeting acting like he was a big, important airline pilot who knew it all. He has a constructive, not high-handed, attitude. Over a period of time, they saw that he was both reasonable and knowledgeable.

"Airport work is not particularly glamorous, from an airline pilot’s point of view. When I asked him to begin doing some of this airport work, he very quietly but effectively went out and started doing it. And he was a self-starter. He would see something on his horizon and just go out and take care of it. The combination of his personality and his perseverance was very effective."

Airport standards

Capt. Dave Haase (TWA, Ret.)—recipient of the 1988 ALPA Air Safety Award—served as chairman of ALPA’s Airport Standards Committee from 1983 until 1992. He talked Capt. Moore into joining the Committee in 1982 and expanding his influence to the national level.

In 1992, when Capt. Haase was also ALPA’s Executive Central Air Safety Chairman and too busy to continue serving as chairman of the national Airport Standards Committee, he turned to Capt. Moore and said, "You’ve got it!" Capt. Moore has been chairman of the Committee—now Group—ever since.

Capt. Haase also persuaded him to take on the additional responsibility of serving as the IFALPA representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Visual Aids Panel—a distinguished group that sets international standards for airport lighting, signage, surface markings, and other visual aids. ICAO is the aviation branch of the United Nations, and Capt. Moore is the representative for the world’s airline pilots to this august body.

"I remember taking him to a couple of meetings—IFALPA and the ICAO Visual Aids Panel," Capt. Haase recalls. "He didn’t need any coaching; it only took him one meeting to develop the contacts and figure it all out.

"He understood when it was the right time to press ahead and when it was the right time to drop back and reassess the situation. You have to step back and let people do the work their own way. I knew that, given free rein, Mack would do the job beautifully, and he has."

Says Capt. Wood Lockhart (United, Ret.), who also served on the ALPA Airport Standards Committee and received the ALPA Air Safety Award for 1996, "As AGE Chairman, Mack’s work on lighting and markings has set the standard internationally. I’ve been told by the ICAO people that he’s the most effective of the [Visual Aids] Panel."

Capt. Lockhart adds, "He was very much involved with the design and development of the new Hong Kong airport. [Capt.] Brian Greeves [Cathay Pacific], of Hong Kong ALPA, was the IFALPA point man on the new airport. Mack was one of his principal advisors on lighting, markings, signage, and docking guidance. Many of Mack’s ideas were incorporated into that airport."

Just one example: One of Capt. Moore’s several special areas of interest is docking-guidance systems at airport gates, as these systems are not all standardized. Also, as line pilots know, some are not all that intuitive.

As one expert on this subject says, "When the docking guidance system manufacturers come up with a new design and want a line pilot’s perspective, Mack is the one they call. In March, he met in Munich with every manufacturer of these systems, save one, as part of his ongoing efforts to make them more accurate, more intuitive, and more standardized. The docking guidance systems at Chek Lap Kok reflect his input."


For the last few years, Capt. Moore has also participated in the FAA’s Research and Development Advisory Committee (REDAC), which provides industry input to the agency in setting its R&D budget priorities.

One of those priorities that has been upgraded in recent years is the FAA’s focus on bird strikes and other wildlife hazards at airports. Bird strikes must be prevented in two major ways —by reducing the number and size of birds on and around airports, and by beefing up turbofan engines.

ALPA’s Aircraft Design and Operations (ADO) Group, chaired by First Officer Tom Phillips (US Airways), works closely with the Association’s AGE Group to coordinate ALPA’s response to this safety hazard on both fronts. For example, Capt. Dave Hayes (Delta), a member of the ADO Group, has participated in and given the responsibility of developing engine certification requirements for bird strikes.

The Association had been working to combat this threat for many years, when, several years ago, Capt. Eschenfelder convinced Capt. Moore that ALPA needed to increase its commitment to reducing the frequency and risk of wildlife hazards to airline operation.

One result was the creation of the ALPA Wildlife Hazards Project (see "Bird Strike Doesn’t Mean No Baseball in Baltimore," February 2000). Capts. Eschenfelder and Bob Perkins (Air Canada Jazz), Canadian Air Safety Coordinator, participate in Bird Strike USA and Bird Strike Canada, respectively, government/industry groups in which they work closely with wildlife biologists, engine manufacturers, airport managers, and others to mitigate these hazards.

Capt. Eschenfelder declares, "I’m the guy getting up and waving and shouting about bird strikes and other wildlife hazards, but without Mack’s support, it wouldn’t have happened."

ALR Program

Another activity of the ALPA AGE Group is the ALPA Airport Liaison Representative (ALR) Program.

Among the pilots laboring with Capt. Ruddy on airport issues and local safety matters in the Washington, D.C., area during the 1970s and 80s was Capt. Larry Horton (United, Ret.), then a Washington-based line pilot and later a flight manager in Chicago. Working together on ALPA’s national Airport Standards Committee, Capts. Ruddy and Horton started the ALPA ALR Program.

"Most of what we have in the training course for ALRs—a four-hours syllabus that he developed and standardized—is the legacy of [Mack's] earlier efforts."
—Capt. Jack Wilkes (Alaska)

"Larry was the brains behind getting the ALR Program organized," Capt. Ruddy recalls. "Then Mack took it on, and the Program grew from there."

It has indeed. Under Capt. Moore’s leadership, the ALPA ALR Program has grown into an international cadre of more than 200 pilot volunteers who work closely with airport managements to improve safety at about 190 airports in the United States and Canada.

Having an ALPA pilot serve as ALPA’s "eyes and ears" at a particular airport has obvious benefits—and some not so obvious, such as the fact that he or she can help support the airport to get funding for airport safety enhancements.

Capt. Jack Wilkes (Alaska) runs the ALR Program these days.

"Mack has put a ton of time and effort into the ALR Program," he reports. "Most of what we have in the training course for ALRs—a four-hour syllabus that he developed and standardized—is the legacy of his earlier efforts."

Capt. Wilkes confides, "One of the most vivid visual images I have of Mack is of this guy with gray hair and a pullover and a huge camera hanging around his neck. Fully 90 percent of the pictures we use in ALR training came from that camera."

Those pictures—continuing the legacy of past members of the Airport Standards Committee, such as the legendary Capt. Vic Hewes (Delta, Ret.), who received the 1961 ALPA Air Safety Award—have played a vital role in showing the FAA, the ICAO Visual Aids Panel, and airport managers, as well as ALRs in training, why "tank traps" at the ends of runways and myriad other shortcomings on and near airports need to be addressed.

"But Mack also makes a point of showing airport people what they’ve done right," Capt. Wilkes emphasizes. "We don’t just tell ’em what they’ve done wrong or need to do."

The ALRs work directly for ALPA’s Regional Safety Coordinators, each of whom deals with safety issues in one of 28 geographic regions in the United States and Canada that mirror the FAA and CAA regions.

"The RSC program, in my view, is indispensable for making sure we’re addressing safety issues on the local and regional level, independent of airline," explains Capt. Wilkes. "The AGE Group, which Mack chairs, administers both the RSC and the ALR Programs."

Runway incursions

In every one of those regions, one of the greatest threats to aviation safety is an item on the NTSB’s—and Capt. Moore’s—"Most Wanted" aviation safety lists: runway incursions.

In 1998, Vice-President Al Gore, Transportation Secretary Federico Peña, and FAA Administrator Jane Garvey announced the creation of the Safer Skies Program in response to recommendations issued by the National Civil Aviation Review Commission in 1997. The Safer Skies Program led to the creation of the government/industry Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), whose specific mission is to reduce the airline accident rate by 80 percent over a 10-year period ending in 2007.

Under the CAST structure, a Joint Safety Analysis Team (JSAT) uses a data-driven analytical process to look at a specific aviation safety problem—for example, runway incursions. The JSAT, which includes ALPA representatives, spends several months conducting an exhaustive study of the problem and developing a list of recommended "interventions" to mitigate the problem.

After CAST accepts the JSAT’s report, CAST creates a Joint Safety Implementation Team (JSIT) "to develop, prioritize, and coordinate an agenda to implement the interventions" recommended by the JSAT.

CAST has approved safety interventions for four accident categories—controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), approach-and-landing accident reduction (ALAR; see "Staying Out of the Rocks," July/August), loss of control, and runway incursions.

ALPA staff engineer Charlie Bergman says, "Capt. Moore was a key player in both the Runway Incursions JSAT and JSIT. CAST has so far approved 46 interventions—16 already implemented, and 30 in the process of being completed. Safety experts estimate that when all 46 safety enhancements are implemented, they’ll reduce the risk of fatalities in the U.S. airline fleet by 65 percent."

Bergman adds, "Mack has helped develop the first completed safety enhancement for runway incursions—a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and an individual best-practices template for ground operations. Some of the bigger airlines might have the resources for writing SOPs and best practices, but we represent the pilots of 46 airlines; some of the smaller ones just don’t have the resources to do this on their own."

Capt. Moore also was the ALPA safety representative who participated with 10 airlines and the FAA Runway Safety Office to develop FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 120-74, Flight Crew Procedures During Taxi Operations. The AC is now in final draft form and is expected to be issued by the end of the year.

"Improved operating procedures were the most highly leveraged safety enhancements," Bergman points out. "For not much investment, we get a return in safety far greater than our investment. Mack has been key in delivering these two products early in the CAST process—good, practical, pilot-friendly, common-sense operating procedures that, when used, will cut the risk of runway incursions."

In September 2002, the FAA is scheduled to begin testing at Long Beach, Calif., a low-cost solution to help prevent runway incursions—Mack Moore’s brainchild, the "flashing PAPI." The PAPI will continue to work the usual way to give vertical guidance to pilots on approach, but if the active runway is occupied, the PAPI lights will flash to warn the pilots of the runway incursion.

In addition to these impressive efforts on the national level, Capt. Moore has invested a lot of time on the regional and local level—even his preflight briefings with his copilots—to reduce runway incursions.

"He’s always been a favorite of the American Association of Airport Executives," notes Jerry Wright, manager of security and human performance for ALPA’s Engineering and Air Safety Department, "because he’s made himself available to participate in their training courses for airport staff, providing the line pilot perspective on training issues."

Capt. Chuck Crosby, United’s chief pilot at Washington [D.C.] Dulles International Airport, adds, "A couple of years ago, United started a domicile safety program. We started having regular safety presentations. Mack came in several times, either before or after a trip, and gave a PowerPoint presentation on runway incursions and related airport safety issues. They were usually two to three hours each, including questions and answers."

Capt. Crosby continues, "In 2001, I received an award at O’Hare for some of the work we did to reduce the rate of runway incursions. We got additional signs put up at O’Hare at some of the hot spots where we’d had runway incursions. It also installed wigwag lights, larger taxiway lights, and reflectors at other locations on the airport. Much of that was Mack’s doing."

"The Mack Moore unit"

As if his considerable contributions to airport safety were not enough, Capt. Moore also earned himself a place in the history of aviation safety for his role in bringing a previously undetected airworthiness issue to light.

On March 3, 1991, United Airlines Flight 585, a B-737-200, rolled and dove into the ground while on approach to Colorado Springs, Colo. Capt. Moore served as the ALPA representative on the Cockpit Voice Recorder Group that the NTSB convened as part of its investigation of the accident.

Keith Hagy, assistant director of ALPA’s Engineering and Air Safety Department, recalls, "The upset lasted only eleven or twelve seconds. The pilots clearly were taken by surprise and could not stop the upset. Mack was convinced that a problem existed in the flight control system of the airplane."

The NTSB later wrote, "On July 16, 1992, during a check of the flight controls in a United Airlines Boeing 737-300, while taxiing to take off from Chicago–O’Hare International Airport, the captain discovered that the airplane’s rudder pedal stopped at around 25 percent left pedal travel. The airplane returned to the gate, and the main rudder pedal control unit (PCU) was removed."

During subsequent testing, United found that "under certain conditions, the actuator piston [in the PCU] would move in a direction opposite to the commanded and intended input….

"Further testing by Boeing, Parker Hannifin [manufacturer of the PCU], and United…showed that the dual concentric servo valve installed on the main rudder PCU could, under some circumstances, result in motion opposite to that commanded by the rudder pedals….

"Analysis by Boeing and Parker-Hannifin shows that the potential for rudder reversal could exist in all B-737 main rudder PCUs….Tests and design analysis indicate that the anomalous operation will occur only when a unique condition prevents independent movement of the primary and secondary slides of the servo valve (a condition that could develop suddenly or occur intermittently). Thus, a one-time check may not ensure that reversal will not occur…."

The pilot who discovered the problem in the PCU was Capt. Mack Moore. Coincidence?

"No," says Hagy. "As a result of his involvement with the investigation of the United Flight 585 accident, which was still going on, Mack was aggressive on the preflight rudder check. Unlike most pilots, who would push each rudder pedal to the stop slowly and smoothly, Mack pushed the pedal abruptly, the way a pilot might to recover from a loss-of-control situation."

Hagy continues, "The investigation into the PCU reversal on Mack’s airplane showed that the summing levers could ride up over an external stop, and that when that happened, over-travel of the internal valve could cause a rudder reversal. The PCU also has an internal stop, but Boeing and Parker-Hannifin had such faith in the external stop, they never issued information about setting the internal stop.

"The United Flight 585 PCU had witness marks on the summing levers and external that showed that the summing lever had ridden up over the external stop, just like on the ‘Mack Moore unit.’ After a few days of testing, United maintenance found they could duplicate Mack’s experience."

That discovery led to several NTSB recommendations and a string of FAA airworthiness directives (ADs) regarding setting the internal stop in the PCU.

Passing the torch

One ALPA ALR is Capt. Mike Maas (American Eagle), who helps First Officer Jeff Sedin (United), the ALR at ORD. Capt. Maas is ALPA’s Regional Safety Coordinator for the Great Lakes-South region and was also the ALR at Rockford, Ill., for several years when his airline served Rockford.

"I first met Mack at an AAAE meeting in Dallas," Capt. Maas remembers. "That must have been around 1993. He was giving a presentation on visual aids—emphasizing how important they are to pilots—things like that, which a lot of people take for granted.

"I had just begun working in ALPA safety work. I had been looking around, trying to find my niche in safety. I was always interested in airport issues. Mack explained the ALR Program to me, and I became an ALR.

"Mack, who had already established a good working relationship with the airport managers, came up to Rockford with me for one of my first meetings," he continues. "I didn’t realize at the time that he was working on projects at the international level. He still took the time to help get me started at my home airport. He’s very down-to-earth, very approachable.

"One thing that impresses me about Mack—he stresses the basics," Capt. Maas points out. "Many airport safety issues, for the most part, are not rocket science. Mack is involved in evaluating and setting standards for some of the latest technology, such as LED lighting and new cockpit displays for airport surface guidance, but he’s still rooted in the basics.

"You have to go back to stressing good communications, good CRM. He’s always emphasized slowing down, not being rushed—which is even more important these days with all the pressures on pilots to land and hold short, to achieve on-time performance, and so forth.

"I just think he’s been very good in getting the word out to the people who can influence things in the airline industry. Things that are obvious to pilots might not be so obvious to other people—for example, airport managers, manufacturers, airport staff," says Capt. Maas.

"Paint was not always removed entirely from pavement—for example, when a hold-short line was moved. When you’re on the ground in a pickup truck, it might look perfectly fine, but when you’re one or two stories up in a big airplane, depending on glare, it might look quite different—‘Is THAT the hold line, or is THAT the hold line?’ He’s been out in the industry, talking, talking, talking about these things.

"In my first conversation with Mack, he said, ‘You’re not trying to get in a fight with the airport managers, you’re trying to cooperate with them to get something done. They might not have thought of some of these things. Maybe they haven’t had the advantage of a line pilot’s perspective.’"

As Capt. Woerth said in presenting the Air Safety Award to Capt. Moore, "Mack not only talks the talk, he walks the walk." And as his good friend Capt. Eschenfelder likes to put it, that walk—and the walks of other pilots inspired by his example and now following in his footsteps—has left "footprints all over the airport."