Release #06.031
July 12, 2006

ALPA Calls for Increased Safety Standards for Cargo Flights

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Capt. Duane E. Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, issued the following statement during the first day of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) public hearing to examine cargo flight safety issues.

“Cargo airline operations must be required to meet the same level of safety as passenger operations. Airports must be required to have aircraft rescue fire fighting (ARFF) protection with full-complement staffing during all operations, regardless of whether they are cargo-only or passenger.

“In addition, the DOT must conduct a review of dangerous goods incidents involving batteries of all types with the aim of bringing regulations in line with the safety risk. Bulk shipments of primary lithium batteries should be prohibited on any aircraft, passenger or cargo, until adequate packaging standards have been developed.

“The FAA needs to leverage recent technical advances in active cargo fire suppression to create systems for the entire aircraft that are controllable from the cockpit. Current procedures, some of which call for crews to depressurize the cabin and fly at 25,000 feet or enter the main deck of a cargo-only aircraft to deal with in-flight smoke or fire events, are outdated.

"Operational procedures, flight crew training, and equipment must be improved to better detect smoke, fire, or fume threats, as these incidents remain serious concerns for all aircraft. In fact, data show that, on average, at least one unscheduled landing a day occurs because of a smoke or fire incident.

“ALPA has taken a leading role in this area by working with manufacturers, airlines, pilots, and professional organizations from around the world to develop standard SFF definitions, philosophy, and a checklist template.

"Much work remains to be done, however, including improving crew mask design and ensuring good communications between aircraft rescue fire fighting and air traffic control. ALPA stands ready to work with the industry to continue to improve the safety of cargo operations and better protect passengers, crew and cargo.”

ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 40 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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ALPA CONTACTS: Linda Shotwell, Jeff Orschel, (703) 481-4440,