Airline Pilots Securing Their Future through ALPA

What Pilots Want

Advocacy survey results are in: safety and contract enforcement top the list.

Air Line Pilot, June/July 2005, p.34

Between February and April 2005, two studies were conducted among ALPA pilots to gauge pilots’ views on future ALPA priorities.

The first study, on what pilots think their union should be doing, was conducted between February 14 and March 14, 2005 using ALPA’s new web survey provider. This first-ever ALPA membership web survey drew responses from 13,333 ALPA pilots, with a resulting response rate of 22 percent.

The Wilson Center for Public Research, ALPA’s polling consultant, analyzed the results of the web survey. 

A second study, which the Wilson Center conducted by telephone between March 23 and April 8 among a representative cross-section of 600 pilots, was a shortened version of the web survey and was used to provide comparisons on key issues.

The response rate for the telephone poll was 88 percent, which is very high for a national poll with no previous notification.

The analysis in the final report was based on the data from the web survey and the telephone poll, combined for the most accurate results.

Key findings

Some things are eternal. Despite the economic woes of the airline industry and the continuing turmoil regarding fuel prices, pensions and security, safety remains a primary concern for airline pilots. 

According to the survey results, the most important priority that pilots had for ALPA at the national level were 

These were the most volunteered areas in both the web survey and in the telephone poll. They were also the most important issues named when pilots were asked to rank priorities from a given list of ALPA functions. 

Inside the data analysis

The ALPA Advocacy Survey had 13,333 total respondents. The Wilson Center took information about these respondents and entered that into its data analysis system. They then took the largest number of respondents that demographically matched a representative sample of all ALPA members by airline, tenure with current employer, seat position, and membership status. This process narrowed the sample to 7,131 records.

Of the 7,131 records, the Wilson Center took a randomized sample that met the demographic criteria noted and refined the sample to 1,050, the number needed to meet the web survey’s design goal of a 3 percent margin of error. They also coded the open-ended responses for the 1,050 web survey responses.

The analysis in the final report was based on the adjusted data from the web survey and the telephone poll data. However, the data tables that accompany the report and any summary tables contained in it show all three sets of data--telephone poll data, adjusted web survey data, and unadjusted web data.

The results of this survey mesh well with the strategic direction ALPA is taking. Leaders at the international and MEC levels are integrating this analysis into their future planning, and it will drive much of ALPA’s work in the coming months.

The Advocacy Survey also served as a positive first run of ALPA’s web survey methodology. The response rates (and, therefore, accuracy) of the Age 60 Survey were much higher, and this simple and efficient tool will serve ALPA members well in the future.