September 23, 2005
JetBlue Flt. 292 Landing Incident Illustrates Need to Maintain Highest Standards of the Piloting Profession
WASHINGTON, D.C.---The following statement was issued by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l. after the safe landing of JetBlue Flt. 292 on Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport:
“The millions of Americans who watched the suspenseful landing of JetBlue Flt. 292 in Los Angeles saw, in living color, a real-life example of what it means to be an airline pilot. The flawless landing and safe outcome that had viewers on the edge of their seats did not happen by chance. It was the result of thousands of hours of training, experience, and preparation by the crew.
“ALPA congratulates the JetBlue pilots and flight attendants for their outstanding performance. However, I’m sure that they would be the first to tell you that they are hardly unique in that respect. Every day, thousands of airline pilots transport millions of passengers safely despite the hazards of equipment failures, weather, and random encounters with unexpected events or conditions.* This commitment to the highest standards is exactly what we, and our customers, expect from those who choose our profession.
“Unfortunately, the high standards of our profession are under attack. Fiscal pressures from our industry’s economic crisis have resulted in enormous losses in pilot compensation and jobs. Every year, thousands of pilots leave our field either voluntarily, or by pursuing other occupations after being furloughed.
“The exemplary safety record of U.S. airlines was built on the practice of allowing only the most competent and accomplished professionals in the cockpit. By mindlessly pursuing a ‘race to the bottom’ to slash labor costs, airlines are driving away the best and the brightest of our profession. For now, the levee is holding, but we cannot forever withstand these assaults on our proud and dedicated pilot workforce.
“Airline management must learn the meaning of the adages ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ and ‘be careful what you wish for’. Government must recognize that it has a role and an obligation to assist, rather than exploit, this vital cornerstone of our economic infrastructure. We can fix a flawed aircraft part or procedure after an accident; but we cannot afford this traditional ‘tombstone’ approach to safety when it comes to the quality of our cockpit crews. Fixing a broken pilot profession will not be easy, quick, or cheap. We must act now to reverse the talent drain before it becomes an irreversible flood.”
ALPA is the union that represents 64,000 airline pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is www.alpa.org.
* For further examples, see information on ALPA’s annual Superior Airmanship Award recipients and other air safety awards.
# # #
ALPA CONTACTS: John Mazor, Linda Shotwell, (703) 481-4440, firstname.lastname@example.org