January 17, 2007
Pilots Need Aircraft Position Information in
Comair Flight 5191 Underscores Pressing Need for Moving Map Display
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Capt. Terry McVenes, Executive Air Safety Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, issued the following statement at the opening of the public docket on the Comair Flight 5191 accident, which took place on Sunday, August 27, 2006 at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky.
“Our first concern today must be to honor those who lost their lives on Comair Flight 5191 and to make their legacy a safer aviation industry. As the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation proceeds, we must apply the lessons learned in order to help prevent future air transportation accidents.
“ALPA is a party to the NTSB investigation and as such, we cannot comment on its details. However, much of the public information describing the factors involved in Comair 5191 reflects ALPA’s longstanding safety agenda. The fact that similar issues continue to occur at other airports in the country, including Blue Grass Airport, confirms that we must continue to pursue an even higher level of safety.
“ALPA has long stressed the need to provide pilots better information, directly in the cockpit, on aircraft position. A moving map display that includes own-ship position could become a highly effective tool in raising pilots’ situational awareness in a dynamic airport environment.
“We are heartened by the FAA’s recent ‘Certalert’ that encourages airport operators to disseminate better and more detailed information on runway and taxiway closures, as well as on construction taking place on an airport. The Certalert is welcome recognition that the current NOTAM system, developed for the teletype era, is inadequate and must evolve with the times.
“The FAA’s Certalert falls short, however, by recommending that only carriers and fixed-base operators receive information about construction and closures on an airport. Of all parties, pilots have the greatest need for timely and accurate information on these issues. The information must be available from anywhere in the system, so that pilots will have the opportunity to incorporate it into predeparture flight planning.
“Additionally, ALPA helped develop the enhanced taxiway-centerline markings and surface-holding position signs that are now the standard for the country’s 73 largest commercial-service airports. As with all safety standards, one level of safety for airports should be the norm. ALPA urges the FAA to make enhanced taxiway markings the gold standard for taxiway markings for all commercial airports—no matter their size.
“This accident, like all accidents, was the result of a complex series of factors. ALPA looks forward to continuing to participate in the NTSB process to identify and evaluate potential safety improvements across the air transportation system. The Comair 5191 tragedy shows we have no time to lose.”
The Air Line Pilots Association, International, is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents 60,000 pilots who fly for 40 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit ALPA on the web at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACT: Linda Shotwell, (703) 481-4440