Release #06.018
April 25, 2006

Airline Pilots: User Feedback Key to Improving Aircraft Certification

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Capt. Duane Woerth, President of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, issued the following statement at the conclusion of today’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Public Meeting on Safety-Critical Systems on Transport Airplanes.

“The aircraft certification process is fundamentally sound--and ALPA supports the NTSB’s effort to investigate ways to improve and adapt the process as technology evolves. ALPA stands ready to work with the NTSB, the FAA, and the industry to explore ways to make our already extremely safe air transportation system even safer. We, the aviation community, must be able to identify and respond to safety issues before accidents occur.

“The safety of an aircraft depends on its design, operation and maintenance. We need to evaluate whether areas for improvement exist in any of these elements, so we can develop effective strategies to avoid safety problems. As aircraft functions become increasingly complex, the need to continue to design robust testing and maintenance protocols will become even more important. This is particularly true as critical aircraft functions become more dependent upon computer software. That software must be designed, tested and maintained with the same rigor as other aircraft components.

“One key element is the collection and sharing of operational data to identify safety problems before they become acute. In addition, regulatory agencies must maintain a dialogue with all users to ensure, as the NTSB pointed out, that the way airplanes are operated in daily service is consistent with the way they were designed.

“ALPA applauds the NTSB’s recognition that addressing human factors in aircraft operations and maintenance is extremely important. Critical to this process is input from the line airline pilot. We know from experience that involving line pilots as early as possible in the design process benefits manufacturers, airlines, pilots, and the flying public alike.”

ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 39 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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