November 15, 2005
Airline Pilots Urge Swift Action on NTSB Pilot Fatigue Concerns
Cockpit video is no quick fix and poses serious privacy threat
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Capt. Rory Kay, Executive Air Safety Vice-Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), issued the following statement today after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements for 2006. The NTSB Most Wanted list contains five aviation-specific recommendations and one intermodal recommendation.
“ALPA commends the Board for continuing to recognize the serious issue of pilot fatigue in its latest ‘Most Wanted’ list. In the wake of drastic changes in pilot work rules, thousands of pilot furloughs, and increased back side-of-the-clock operations, the FAA needs to keep fatigue and duty time at the top of its safety agenda. ALPA concurs with NTSB Acting Chair Mark Rosenker’s characterization of the FAA’s ‘dismal’ response to past NTSB recommendations to set duty time limits that consider human sleep and rest requirements. As a start, ALPA calls for updating the FAR Flight/Duty/Rest regulations based upon scientifically demonstrated human performance limitations, rather than on perceptions of operational necessity. The current 8-hour rest period for pilots is wholly inadequate and should be increased to 10 hours.
“The Board’s mandate to advance aviation safety should lead it to expand the amount of information that flight data recorders gather, not to promote red herrings like cockpit video. The supposed benefits of cockpit cameras are vastly overrated. Far more effective and efficient tools exist to obtain the safety data necessary to accurately investigate and prevent accidents. Flight recorder data are unambiguous and immune to analytical shortcomings associated with video. ALPA is not alone in reaching this conclusion. RTCA, a federal advisory committee made up of FAA and NTSB representatives, concluded that it is premature to discuss installing cockpit imaging systems until existing serious shortcomings in legal protections of voice data are addressed. RTCA sets standards for communications, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) systems.
“ALPA fully agrees with the NTSB’s recommendation to prevent runway incursions by giving immediate warnings to flight crews in the cockpit. ALPA urges the Board to consider a multi-layered approach that does not depend solely on controller intervention to alert pilots to incursion hazards. Also essential are safety enhancements such as improving airport signage and markings, expanding runway status lights, and leveraging the most technologically advanced tracking systems available to help pilots and controllers monitor traffic near and on the airport. In addition, ALPA supports equipping the U.S. commercial fleet with a cockpit moving-map display as soon as possible.
“Regarding the NTSB’s other ‘Most Wanted’ recommendations, ALPA supports the NTSB’s recommendation to require restraint systems for children under the age of 2. Also, ALPA vigorously commends the NTSB’s continued emphasis on the need for the FAA to provide pilots with tools for safe flight in, or the safe detection and escape from, icing conditions caused by freezing drizzle or freezing rain. Additionally, the voluntary measures that exist for operators to eliminate flammable vapors in fuel tanks on transport category aircraft are encouraging, but, given the airline industry’s current economic condition, many operators are unlikely to choose to incur the increased cost. As a result, ALPA applauds the NTSB’s efforts to continue to press for the best possible protections for fuel systems by featuring this issue among its ‘Most Wanted’ aviation safety recommendations for 2006.
“On a final, broader note, as airline traffic surges across the country, airline pilots need the NTSB to monitor the nation’s transportation safety efforts with a full complement of qualified board members and staff. The Board membership is currently incomplete and it is understaffed. The administration must act to appoint Board members with hands-on aviation experience, and Congress must provide the NTSB with adequate resources to protect passengers, workers, and cargo.”
ALPA represents 63,000 airline pilots at 40 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Learn more at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACTS: John Mazor, Linda Shotwell, (703) 481-4440, or firstname.lastname@example.org.