June 18, 2004
Government Abandons Security Threat Rule After Legal Challenge By ALPA and Other Airline Unions
WASHINGTON, DC---In a victory for airline pilots, the government has acknowledged that regulations it had issued in January 2003 allowing it to revoke the licenses of pilots suspected of being security threats cannot be lawfully enforced.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and other airline unions had challenged the regulations as unfair and inconsistent with due process, because they permitted a pilot’s license to be revoked on mere suspicion that the pilot was a security threat. The challenged regulations did not allow the pilot to have a timely hearing at which the revocation could be contested.
ALPA and the other airline unions brought suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to nullify the regulations. ALPA also brought its concerns to Congress, which enacted new and fairer procedures while the lawsuit was pending. Nevertheless, it was still not clear that the government had abandoned the challenged regulations. However, as the litigation progressed and pressed by the judges at oral argument, the government ultimately informed the Court that enforcing the challenged regulations would now be unlawful and that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration promised "never to enforce the rules."
In a decision issued on June 11, 2004, the Court relied on these representations in stating that "the challenged rules are now devoid of any legal effect." Accordingly, the Court dismissed the lawsuit because, in light of the government’s acknowledgement, the validity of the regulations was no longer in issue.
"We are quite pleased with the outcome," said Captain Duane E. Woerth, president of ALPA.
"The ‘guilty until proven innocent’ attitude toward U.S. pilots that was embodied in the regulations, and which the government has now been forced to abandon, is simply unacceptable. Guaranteeing due process under the law is a cornerstone of our country’s legal system," Woerth said.
Woerth noted that "pilots would not have achieved this satisfactory final result without ALPA’s tenacious and effective pursuit of both legislative and judicial remedies. We look forward to both the FAA and TSA issuing rules that truly protect pilots and people who fly."
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.
ALPA Contact: John Mazor (703) 481-4440