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News Release

Release #01.66
June 25, 2001

ALPA Chief Says Pilot Fatigue Is a Real Safety Issue in Canada

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The following statement was released today by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), in response to several recent articles in the Canadian news media that do not accurately portray pilot fatigue as a real aviation safety issue:

"On behalf of the 66,000 ALPA pilots at 47 airlines in Canada and the U.S., I want to express our union’s outrage that the issue of pilot fatigue has recently been dismissed as a non-safety issue in the Canadian news media. Because of its insidious nature, pilot fatigue can be a major detriment to aviation safety, and is of great concern to professional airline pilots in Canada, the U.S., and across the globe.

"Numerous scientific studies prove beyond a doubt that pilot fatigue is a real safety issue, and one that ALPA believes must be promptly addressed in a cooperative spirit by labour, airline management, and the government for the well-being of our pilots and our customers—the flying public. It cannot be denied that a "legal" duty day—sometimes lasting longer than 14 hours, and often requiring the cockpit crew to cross numerous time zones—is tremendously demanding for a professional pilot, who must maintain his/her mental and physical faculties at top performance levels at all times in the cockpit.

"As professional airline pilots, we realize a great load of responsibility rests on our shoulders every day, as our charge is to transport thousands passengers safely to their targeted destinations, and to move thousands of tons of cargo. For the media to portray pilots as "lazy" for opposing the current lenient Canadian flight time/duty time regulations—in comparison to such regulations in other Western countries—is inaccurate, unethical, and irresponsible. To deny that fatigue is a serious problem will not make it to go away; it only exacerbates the problem, and at what risk?"

"ALPA looks forward to working cooperatively and closely with the Minister of Transport, other government officials, and airline industry representatives to enact positive changes to the current flight time/duty time regulations in Canada."

For more information on pilot fatigue and regulations, visit ALPA’s Web page on these issues at http://cf.alpa.org/internet/projects/ftdt/index.html.

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ALPA CONTACT: John Mazor, Anya Piazza (703) 481-4440

*Study released by the Centre for Sleep Research, The Queen Hospital, in South Australia, April 1998.