Release #05.022
June 13, 2005

Pilots Point to Poor Training, Engine Flaws in Fatal Pinnacle 3701 Accident

Carrier must fulfill pledge to change its approach to common-sense safety programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Air Line Pilots Association Executive Air Safety Chairman Capt. Terry McVenes issued the following statement after day one of the National Transportation Safety Board Public Hearing on the Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701 accident that took place on Oct. 14, 2004, in Jefferson City, Mo.

“Today, we again mourn our colleagues who lost their lives on that terrible day, and we pledge to do all we can to learn and apply every lesson we can from this accident. We will ensure that their legacy is one of improved safety and training to make certain a tragedy like this never happens again.

“If just one of the two stalled engines had restarted, this accident would never have occurred. The facts show that the pilots followed the proper procedures and attempted to restart their engines multiple times. But both engines failed to restart and it may have been because they had suffered ‘core lock,’ a safety risk previously known only to engine and aircraft manufacturers until very recently--and about which the pilots knew nothing. While the FAA’s Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin issued on June 2, 2005 instructs pilots about how to avoid the ‘core lock’ danger, it comes far too late for our lost colleagues.

“Regional airlines across the country are experiencing enormous growth and adding ever-more sophisticated aircraft to their fleets. This environment means that pilots often have less time to gain first-hand experience with an aircraft before assuming command. Carriers like Pinnacle must provide comprehensive operational training to compensate for this lack of hands-on experience and to better prepare its pilots for the transition to jet aircraft.

“Pinnacle Airlines lacks an adequate ‘safety culture’ and has failed to put critical safety reporting programs in place that could help detect and correct safety issues before accidents occur. Carriers around the world rely upon cost-effective, non-punitive and confidential safety-reporting programs such as Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) and Aviation Safety Action Plan (ASAP) to help ensure that air travel remains the safest mode of transportation. For more than a year, ALPA has repeatedly requested that Pinnacle Airlines put both these programs in place. Pinnacle has very recently agreed to implement the programs. ALPA stands ready to work together with the company to institute these programs as quickly as possible.

“Last week, the Department of Transportation Inspector General issued a report highlighting how far FAA’s resources are stretched with regard to monitoring aviation safety. A positive safety culture that includes active safety reporting programs is more critical than ever to helping the FAA do its job and to ensuring that aviation safety remains paramount in these times of ever-increasing numbers of flights and passengers.

“As passenger and cargo air transportation continues to grow, our challenge is to make sure the safety lessons learned by the mainline carriers are passed onto the regional airline industry. The FAA and NTSB must set the pace for progress by making certain that all airlines adhere to the same level of safety. Inadequate training, a poor safety culture, and poor procedures tell us that Pinnacle Airlines is an example of how one level of safety has not yet penetrated to all levels of the industry.”

To learn more about 'core lock', click here.

ALPA, chartered by the AFL-CIO in 1931, is the union that represents 64,000 airline pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is at

# # #

ALPA CONTACT:  John Mazor, Linda Shotwell, (703) 481-4440