Release #08.049
October 28, 2008

Pilots’ Safety Concerns Top NTSB List (Again)
FAA Must Be Fully Funded for More Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Capt. Rory Kay, Executive Air Safety Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), issued the following statement after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements.

“ALPA commends the NTSB for its determination in ensuring the U.S. airline industry maintains and enhances its remarkable safety record by issuing its Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements. As long as major issues such as transportation worker fatigue and runway safety remain on the list, we need to continue to work toward solutions to these challenges.

“Just last week, ALPA’s Board of Directors reaffirmed its commitment to pursue science-based flight- and duty-time regulations as a top priority of the Association. Developed decades ago, today’s flight- and duty-time limits fail to reflect modern science, schedules, equipment, and travel distances. Antiquated rules, combined with an economic climate in which airlines routinely push pilots into sacrificing needed rest, translate into intensifying pilot fatigue across the industry.

“We applaud the continued focus on efforts needed to make runways safer. ALPA has been, and will continue to be, an industry leader in efforts to eliminate runway incursions and excursions. The NTSB today reaffirmed the urgent need to act. Technologies such as moving map displays and ADS-B combined with runway status lights and enhanced runway markings will help pilots navigate increasingly complex and congested runways as safely as possible. FAA’s recent move to increase the number of airports with runway status lights is encouraging, but the threat from runway incursions cannot be underestimated. We hope this announcement is the preamble to a call for all airports with air carrier service to install runway status lights and to pursue the range of high- and low-tech solutions to making runways safer. We are also encouraged by the recent focus brought by NTSB on the need to refine the method of landing distance calculations and on the vital role of runway safety areas in ensuring the safety of air travel.

“NTSB’s recognition of the advances made in reducing fuel tank flammability point to the value of continued focus on developing solutions to a critical safety problem. Many of the items on the NTSB list, from fatigue to runway safety to flight in icing conditions, will require dedicated long term commitment by government and industry to develop effective solutions.

“Many of the solutions to the problems highlighted in today’s meeting will founder without adequate funding for research and implementation. Congress owes it to airline passengers, cargo shippers, and employees to advance safety in an industry that provides a tremendous economic engine for this country and make reauthorization of the FAA funding among the first items of business for the 111th Congress.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 53,000 pilots at 37 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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Contacts: Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, 703/481-4440 or