Release #07.059
November 2, 2007

ALPA Calls on Congress to Help Pilots Protect our Skies

WASHINGTON – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, (ALPA) urged Congress to support pilots’ role in protecting the skies against potential threats by properly funding the Federal Flight Deck Officer program (FFDO) and requiring installation of secondary flight deck barriers on all of the U.S. airline fleet.

“Right now, our pilots voluntarily pay out-of-pocket expenses and put their lives on the line to keep America safe by becoming Federal Flight Deck Officers,” said Capt. Robert Hesselbein, chairman of the ALPA National Security Committee. “If Congress and the Department of Homeland Security want the FFDO program to remain viable, they will need to make it easier for pilots to participate by requiring mandatory leave from employers and providing incentives to cover the costs of training and travel.” (Read Capt. Hesselbein's testimony)

Since April 2003, the government has trained thousands of volunteer airline pilots as FFDOs to protect passenger and cargo aircraft flying throughout the U.S. The FFDO program has evolved from a small program that armed airline pilots to protect the flight deck into a substantial, cost-effective security institution.

Another cost-effective security measure proposed by the Association addressed the productive use of secondary barriers. Accompanied by standardized procedures for protecting the cockpit door when opened during flight, secondary barriers would significantly augment the fortified door and add an important layer of security to prevent hostile takeover of the cockpit.

“The few seconds that such barriers would buy us are worth their weight in gold if they mean preventing another hijacking,” said Capt. Hesselbein. “ALPA urges the members of Congress to support Rep. Steve Israel’s bill, H.R. 3925, which would require installation of secondary barriers on all Part 121 aircraft, including all-cargo.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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ALPA Contact: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, 703-481-4440