Release #04.040
September 23, 2004

Industry-Wide Coordination Could Reveal Key Airline Safety Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Capt. Duane E. Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), issued the following statement upon speaking at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) First Annual International Aviation Safety Forum in Chantilly, Va.

"There is no question that the airline industry is collecting more safety data than ever before, the question is how we’re using the data once we have it. By coordinating and independently analyzing safety information from across the airline industry, we can rank the most pressing safety concerns and set about prioritizing resources and funding to create solutions. Data, not politics, must drive the airline safety agenda.

"The Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) has already garnered remarkable success by using accident and incident data to develop safety enhancements for the airline industry. We must capitalize on the success of programs such as CAST, the Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, and the Aviation Safety Action Plan (ASAP) by efficiently and independently analyzing the data gathered through them.

"However, any strategy for collecting and analyzing safety data must also contain strict safeguards to ensure confidentiality and prevent the misuse or abuse of the data. The sole purpose of the safety data collection must be hazard identification. Protections must be established to make certain that the data is not used for litigation, punitive measures or marketing. Legislation must be passed both in the U.S. Congress and internationally through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to secure these protections and inspire confidence from pilots and other airline workers that will allow these safety programs to realize their full potential.

"Moreover, the federal government must commit to fund this independent process for targeted analysis of data from across the industry in order to capitalize on the vast amount of airline safety data available and to ensure that air travel continues to be the safest mode of transportation.

"ALPA is working to shift the aviation system approach to collecting and analyzing safety data away from being focused purely on the forensic information available after an accident has occurred. Instead, future mishap prevention must be based on evidence of safety issues that can be identified well before a mishap takes place. A confidential and independent safety data collection and evaluation system supported by industry and government is critical to leading commercial aviation to the next level of safety."

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing 64,000 pilots at 43 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at


ALPA Contact: John Mazor or Linda Shotwell, 703-481-4440 or