November 8, 2007
Pilots Urge Swift Action on NTSB Fatigue Concerns
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Capt. Terry McVenes, Executive Air Safety Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), issued the following statement after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements.
“ALPA applauds the NTSB’s vision and leadership in facing head-on many of the long-range risks that must be resolved if we are to maintain the safest air transportation system possible. We share the frustration expressed at today’s hearing regarding the slow progress in putting existing solutions in place to reduce many of these risks.
“NTSB’s decision to again name worker fatigue among its Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements reflects both the seriousness of the threat and the slow pace of action to address it. Today’s federal aviation flight- and duty-time limits are an outdated patchwork of rules developed decades ago. The regulations fail to take into account current science, flight schedules, aircraft equipment, and travel distances. Add to the mix an economic climate in which airlines routinely push pilots into sacrificing needed rest, and the situation becomes extremely serious. Pilots today are often forced to choose to fly fatigued and reduce safety margins as a result or risk punitive action from their managements.
“Last month, ALPA created a Fatigue Blue Ribbon Panel to review the latest science surrounding pilot fatigue, look into the current domestic, international, and cargo operations, and compare the U.S. and Canadian regulations to those in Europe and Asia. The Panel will report its findings in mid-2008. Until then, ALPA will continue to help develop training programs that will increase pilots’ awareness of the warning signs of fatigue. We will also urge the FAA to pursue realistic, science-based flight- and duty-time limits that make certain that airline pilots in both passenger and cargo operations are rested and ready to perform their jobs.
“For decades, ALPA has strongly advocated decisive action that will make our runway operations safer. Today’s NTSB recommendations support ALPA’s long-standing contention that there is no time to waste in preventing runway incursions and excursions.
“This past summer, ALPA participated in the FAA’s ‘Call to Action’ aviation industry symposium on runway incursion prevention. We were gratified to see so much agreement across all sectors of the airline industry. We know that rapidly deploying enhanced runway markings, using runway incursion prevention training materials and continuing education programs; and carefully reviewing air traffic control clearance and taxiway procedures are just a few of the keys to making our already extremely safe industry even safer.
“Pilot fatigue, runway safety, and the other transportation safety improvements highlighted today are challenges that can be met only through collaboration among the regulators, airlines, and labor. ALPA stands ready to work together with stakeholders from throughout the industry to move aviation safety to the next level.”
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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