June 6, 2007
ALPA Adds Two Safety Items to NTSB’s “Most Wanted” List
Pilots Praise Fatigue Listing, Call for Better Safety Reporting and Training
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) President, Capt. John Prater, testified today at a Congressional hearing and added two more items to “Most Wanted” aviation safety improvement list of the National Transportation Safety Board.
“Pilot fatigue made the ‘Most Wanted’ list, and we commend the NTSB for addressing one of the most pressing issues in the aviation industry today,” said Prater. “Simply put, pilots are tired, and the Federal Aviation Administration must modernize flight- and duty-time regulations and rest requirements to ensure the safety of the traveling public.”
Prater urged the NTSB to add to its list the need for: industry-wide adoption of non-punitive safety reporting programs, such as the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP); and increased training levels for today’s new-hire pilots who are less experienced than pilots hired in the past.
“Airline pilots are the ultimate safety net in our industry,” Prater told the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee members. “That’s why ALPA believes that non-punitive safety reporting programs should be high on the NTSB’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. We consider them standard-issue, must-have items for airline safety.”
Also of concern to ALPA is the decline in the amount of experience new hire pilots have in the industry today and the inadequate training provided by the airlines to help these new pilots become seasoned aviators.
“When I was first hired as a pilot, I had to have 2,500 hours of flight time—hands-on experience,” Prater said. “Today, at some regional airlines, pilots need as few as 200 hours of flight time to land a job. This concerns us and should raise a red flag for others in the industry.”
Pilot training looms as a serious issue for ALPA, with practices like the multicrew pilot license (MPL) becoming accepted internationally. Prompted by pilot shortages, most notably in India and China, this certificate relies on extensive use of simulators to shorten the time it takes to train a pilot.
“The MPL pilot would be certificated to fly as a first officer in a passenger-carrying jet,” Prater said, “but would not be certificated to fly solo in a Piper Cub at your local airpark.”
While the FAA has not indicated that it plans to adopt MPL, ALPA warned that this type of training creates pilots who gain their experience almost entirely through on-the-job training—with the lives of passengers in their hands.
“These pilots are likely to be bright and talented individuals,” Prater said. “But that’s no substitute for experience and it definitely raises safety concerns.”
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. For more information, visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contacts: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, 703-481-4440