June 28, 2007
ALPA Commends Introduction of FAA Reauthorization
The following statement was issued by Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l at the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“This legislation represents a strong step forward in making the modernization of our air transportation system a national priority. While ALPA recognizes that the introduction of this bill is only the first step in the process to pass legislation, the action sets the stage for progress toward meeting surging air transportation demand. U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and his committee deserve much credit for also seeking to resolve an array of critical aviation issues that influence safety and labor relations in our industry.
“We are encouraged by the bill’s language that provides a number of funding sources for the FAA. Adequate funding will allow the FAA to effectively plan for the future development of our air traffic system. The FAA needs a stable, predictable, funding stream to know with a high degree of certainty what its resource capabilities and limitations will be, enabling solid development and acquisition strategies for the programs and equipment that are key elements of modernization.
“We are equally encouraged by the number of robust safety initiatives included in the bill. The support for significant improvements in runway safety, known throughout the industry as a critical need, is commendable, and we look forward to working with the FAA as it develops products and processes to expand the industry’s efforts to prevent runway incursions. The expanded study of wake-vortex effects, research on weather phenomena, and positive steps forward in fuel tank safety have long been key in ALPA’s aviation safety strategy.
“The recognition that unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can be introduced into the national airspace system only after complete assurances of safe operation shows the importance of maintaining the same high level of safety for the traveling public regardless of the vehicle or program involved. The bill also reflects the wisdom in recognizing the critical importance of Wake and Midway Islands to the economic operation of flights in the Pacific.
“This bill also takes us closer to addressing one of today’s most pressing airline safety issues—pilot fatigue. ALPA is particularly concerned about pilot fatigue, especially in the current environment in which airline managements are legally able to stretch pilots’ work and duty time to the limit. Rep. Oberstar’s committee directs—in no uncertain terms—the FAA to commission a study by the National Institutes of Health on pilot fatigue and to put updating the U.S. flight-time, duty-time, and rest-requirement regulations into a formal rulemaking process.
“This legislation also reflects opposition to recent attempts to allow greater foreign control of U.S. airlines and makes clear that foreign interests are not to be given control of U.S. airlines.
“Lastly, language to raise the pilot upper age limit was included consistent with many of the key recommendations outlined in ALPA’s May 2007 Executive Board resolution. ALPA will continue to be fully engaged on this issue.
“While this legislation did not correct the inequality that exists in pilots’ retirement benefits because the current law mandates that they must retire at age 60, ALPA will continue to seek an appropriate pension-related vehicle in both the House and Senate.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 cockpit crewmembers at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org for more information.
# # #
ALPA CONTACTS: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, (703) 481-4440, firstname.lastname@example.org