News from ALPA's Committees
ALPA's PCFC Shoulders the Load
|President's Committee for Cargo|
By The ALPA President's Committee for Cargo (PCFC)
Air Line Pilot, March 2004, p.22
ALPA’s President’s Committee for Cargo (PCFC), in its first meeting of 2004, met in mid-January at the Association’s offices in Herndon, Va., and rolled up their shirtsleeves for 2½ productive days of work. Approximately 20 people attended the meeting, including representatives from ASTAR, Atlas, FedEx, Gemini, Kitty Hawk, Northwest, and Polar. Pilot representatives from Airborne Express and UPS attended the meeting as invited guests.
S/O Bill McReynolds (FedEx), newly appointed as chairman of the PCFC by ALPA’s president, Capt. Duane Woerth, noted the Committee’s appreciation of its past chairman, Capt. Jack Burke (FedEx). "We’re indebted to Jack for all his hard work in getting the Committee up and running," S/O McReynolds said. "He gave us a firm foundation on which to build."
The PCFC’s first meeting of the year focused on what S/O McReynolds called "pressing" issues regarding TSA plans to select and train cargo pilots to be Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDOs), an opportunity previously available only to passenger airline pilots. To that end, the PCFC hosted a meeting with TSA representatives to discuss plans for the initial cargo FFDO program.
S/O McReynolds noted, "We have built a strong relationship with the ALPA National Security Committee. The NSC members—and ALPA staff—were a big help in opening doors for us at the TSA. We’re a value-added asset that the TSA doesn’t have to pay for."
Invited to attend this January meeting, the TSA representatives said, "We have a deadline we’re going to let slip so we can meet with you." During the PCFC meeting in Herndon, the TSA representatives asked two PCFC members to join them the next day at nearby Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to help them understand better the unique characteristics of cargo operations that need to be considered in tailoring FFDO training for cargo pilots.
The PCFC also reviewed plans for, and participation of committee members in, the upcoming National Transportation Safety Board Air Cargo Safety Forum, to be held March 30–31 at the NTSB Academy in Sterling, Va., near IAD. Also on the PCFC agenda were dates for future meetings and updates on regulatory and legislative issues.
The ALPA PCFC was established to give cargo pilots a voice to be heard and reckoned with. It is a conduit for raising issues and recommending solutions to the unique problems that cargo pilots face. The group has many years of cargo flying experience and expertise. The air transportation industry and government regulators are beginning to realize that cargo pilots do have unique issues and can be a valued partner in developing possible solutions for those issues.
"We’re finding out that, among the different cargo pilot groups, we have a lot of the same problems and issues," S/O McReynolds confided, "but unfortunately, we also have a lot of issues that are unique to each pilot group or fleet. We have a very wide array of opinions and practices. So we have a lot of work to do."
A parallel issue for the PCFC is that FAA principal operations inspectors (POIs) exert a huge influence on cargo airline operations. PFCF members have found, as they have met together, that POIs in the cargo world exhibit much greater variation in their interpretation of federal aviation regulations than do POIs of passenger airlines. Working toward better standardization and FAA oversight of cargo POIs is one of the long-term aims of the PCFC.
The next scheduled Cargo Committee meeting is planned for March 29–April 1, to be held in conjunction with the Safety Board’s Air Cargo Safety Forum.
The Committee is open to any and all comments, concerns, and recommendations from fellow airline pilots. If you wish to have your comments heard, contact your local executive council or master executive council. Also feel free to contact any Committee member; contact information is listed in the Committee’s section within ALPA’s member-only website at www.alpa.org.