Release #09.028
June 15, 2009

Regional Airline Safety Requires Long-Term Commitment
FAA’s “Call to Action” Must be First Step in Industry-Wide Effort

WASHINGTON – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) stands in support of today’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “Call to Action” as an important opportunity for the airline industry to share best practices in the areas of pilot screening, hiring, training, and professional development. The work undertaken today is a critical step toward making a safe industry even safer.

“ALPA members fly hundreds of thousands of trips and millions of passengers safely and securely every month,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president. “Whether they fly for majors, legacies, regionals, commuters, or freighters, airline pilots are dedicated professionals who demonstrate their commitment to safety each and every time they fly.”

“The FAA’s Call to Action and the follow-on activity it will generate, offer an unprecedented opportunity for our industry to share short-term strategies to take on the complex aviation safety challenges we face today,” said Prater. “However, this meeting must be only the beginning of a longer-term industry and government effort. The regulator, the airlines, and labor must deliver on the commitment made today to enhance safety in the areas of pilot screening and hiring standards, training, and mentoring.”

“Pilot training is the bedrock of aviation safety,” continued Prater. “Today’s pilot candidates come to our industry with far more variation in their aviation-oriented academic background and their experience than in years past. Pilots operate sophisticated aircraft in a complex environment. The training they receive must be appropriately tailored to ensure that these pilots maintain the highest safety standards possible.”

“Airline training programs must reflect an individual’s education and experience and focus on the areas that new pilots tend to find most demanding, such as maintaining situational awareness during poor weather,” said Capt. Rory Kay, ALPA’s Executive Air Safety Chairman.

ALPA has long maintained that professionalism and technical competence in the cockpit start with training. However, initial training must be reinforced and fostered through mentoring by highly-experienced airline pilots and coupled with ongoing training to ensure the highest possible safety standard.

“ALPA stands ready to work together with the airlines and university aviation programs to develop and put in place mentoring and career development programs that will position new pilots to succeed,” said Kay.

For new captains, command and leadership training is essential. New captains must learn the skills, judgment, and professional qualities necessary to properly lead a crew, exercise command authority, and demonstrate sound judgment during high-pressure situations.

Moreover, mainline airlines and their regional code-share partners must work together to ensure that training programs are tailored to the experience level of their new pilots. ALPA strongly maintains that major airlines must provide the oversight of code-share partners through periodic safety audits of flight operations, training programs, maintenance, and inspections.

“For more than seven decades ALPA pilots have tirelessly pursued safety in every segment of our industry,” concluded Prater. “We look forward to engaging with the regulators and the airlines to build on the momentum generated by FAA’s Call to Action to keep our passengers, crews, and cargo safer than ever.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing nearly 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada.

# # #

Contact: Linda Shotwell, 703/481-4440 or