Release #09.077
October 14, 2009

Airline Pilot Training Bill’s Passage “Momentous”

WASHINGTON – Today’s passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of The Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009 (H.R.3371) promises to enhance the safety of U.S. air transportation and address many of the pilot screening and training issues that are the result of the airline industry’s intense focus on the lowest possible operating costs.

“This bill raises the safety bar for all U.S. airlines,” said Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). “Now, every airline will have an incentive to hire the best-qualified candidates and provide their pilots with the high-quality training they seek and require to maintain the highest possible standard of safety.”

In testimony before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee in September, Prater lauded the FAA’s recent Call to Action on Airline Safety and Pilot Training, but noted that the “action” necessary from the regulated parties and the agency was noticeably absent. He underscored that voluntary safety programs that are working need to be supported, that many of the industry’s best practices must be mandated, and that its worst practices must be eliminated through legislative or regulatory action.

“Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Jerry Costello, Rep. James Oberstar, Rep. Thomas Petri, and Rep. John Mica, this bill takes a momentous step forward in fostering many of the best—and eliminating many of the worst—practices in the U.S. airline industry,” continued Prater.

In an October 13 letter to members of the U.S. House supporting The Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009, Capt. Prater urged passage of the bill, particularly because it directs the FAA to update flight and duty time rules to more adequately track scientific research.

H.R.3371 will also help facilitate the voluntary aviation safety reporting programs that have proven to help identify and eliminate safety risks before accidents occur. In addition, the bill will enhance pilot screening, training, professionalism, and mentoring.

ALPA continues to deliver on its commitment to assist the industry in recognizing and addressing the serious concerns raised by the FAA’s Call to Action. The Association continues to build on its long-held dedication to enhancing pilot professionalism, founded on a Code of Ethics adopted in 1956. ALPA is also working through Professional Standards Committees at each of its pilot groups to pursue pilot candidate screening, hiring, training, and mentoring recommendations made in its September 2009 white paper entitled “Producing a Professional Airline Pilot.”

“The best and most important safety feature on any airplane is a well-trained, highly motivated and professional pilot,” concluded Prater. “This bill will go a long way toward ensuring that one level of safety exists across the U.S. airline industry.” To read Rep. Costello’s press release on this important topic, please click here.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing nearly 53,500 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada.


Contact: Linda Shotwell, 703/481-4440 or