Release #06.066
November 20, 2006

ALPA Applauds NTSB Focus on Engine “Core Lock” Safety Risk
Other Factors Must Be Scrutinized

WASHINGTON, DC – The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) applauds the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) effort to highlight the risk of engine core lock, which ALPA believes was a factor in the accident involving Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701. The NTSB today released a series of recommendations for action coming out of its investigation of the October 14, 2004 accident.

“The NTSB’s recommendations do an excellent job of addressing a key technical issue uncovered in this investigation,” said Capt. Terry McVenes, ALPA’s Executive Air Safety Chairman. “Flight crews and operators need to know the risk of core lock and understand the airspeeds that must be flown to avoid it.”

The NTSB recommendations also focus on the need to rigorously test engines’ likelihood of core lock in a way that is consistent with how these engines are operated in normal service. NTSB’s recommended test to determine the minimum airspeed required to prevent a condition during which the engine could not be restarted is essential to accurate testing. Including other engine types in this same kind of analysis should also provide an industry-wide safety benefit.

“We are particularly encouraged that the NTSB recommends giving pilots more information about the performance penalties that could occur with core lock, so that they can plan properly and select a diversion airport that is within the airplane’s gliding distance,” added Capt. McVenes.

ALPA strongly urges the Board to continue to develop additional recommendations addressing other key elements in the Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701 accident. In particular, ALPA feels that the investigation revealed a need for scrutiny of current training practices, particularly as the modern airline business moves closer to an all-jet, high performance fleet.

ALPA also recommends that additional emphasis be placed on proven safety reporting programs such as the Flight Operations Quality Assurance program (FOQA) and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP). Such non-punitive programs have shown their value as an important means to allow pilots, airlines, and the FAA to collaboratively work to identify potential safety problems before any damage or injury occurs.

Finally, ALPA remains concerned that the simulators used to train some flight crews do not accurately model aircraft performance in all flight regimes. ALPA urges the NTSB to consider recommendations that would require simulators to accurately replicate aircraft performance and handling characteristics.

“ALPA is pleased to have been part of the investigative effort that led to these recommendations,” said Capt. McVenes. “As always, we stand ready to work with government and industry to make the safest air transportation system in the world even safer.”

ALPA, founded in 1931, is the world’s largest pilot union, representing 61,000 pilots at 40 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at

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ALPA CONTACTS: Linda Shotwell and Jeff Orschel at 703/481-4440, or