October 18, 2004
Air Transat 236 Report Does Not Single Out Pilots
MONTREAL, QC - The union representing pilots at Air Transat accepts the findings of the report of the Portuguese Office for the Prevention and Investigation of Aircraft Accidents released yesterday on the incident involving Air Transat Flight 236 on August 24, 2001.
The report clearly indicates that the Air Transat Flight 236 incident resulted from a rare convergence of factors, including aircraft design, training, mechanical and performance issues. Furthermore, it underscores the competence and professionalism exhibited by the two pilots in overcoming a host of misinformation and safely landing the aircraft and safeguarding the passengers under exceptional circumstances.
"Unfortunately, some members of the media are singling out 'human factors' as the cause of the incident," said Capt. Martin Gauthier, head of the Air Transat unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, International. "We are working with the company to promote an accurate account of the report's findings to the media. Together, we will make it clear that the pilots were given confusing and contradictory information which led to the incident, and it was only through their actions that Air Transat Flight 236 landed safely."
The investigation left no doubt that flight crews, even in today's sophisticated aircraft, still require clear, unambiguous indications of technical problems if they are to make the accurate, timely professional judgments expected of them. The report highlights the need to address the human factors issues that will always surround the design and operation of commercial aircraft if we are to avoid similar situations in the future.
The factors contributing to the Flight 236 incident do not exist today. Both the aircraft manufacturer and the company reacted quickly to the 2001 event and have already put changes in place to address the safety issues now raised by this report. For example, the Safety Management System is now the guiding factor in the Air Transat safety culture -and the company is often cited as a positive example to the aviation industry around the world. Additionally, the manufacturer has already begun making improvements to ensure that warnings presented to crews more accurately convey the seriousness of a situation.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world's largest pilot union, representing 64,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
Pete Janhunen, 571-243-5300
Linda Shotwell, 703-481-4440