ALPA’s 56th Air Safety Forum Opens

August 30, 2010 - With an impressive attendance of more than 400 pilot professionals, the 2010 ALPA Air Safety Forum kicked off today in Washington, D.C. This special event aligns airline pilots with a host of subject-matter experts and industry partners, and recognizes those ALPA members who demonstrate excellence in the piloting profession.

Click here to view a photo slideshow
of Day 1 of the Forum

The Forum commenced the first of its two-day proceedings with separate presentations from ALPA’s National Security, Jumpseat, and Pilot Assistance Committees. ALPA president Capt. John Prater welcomed each of these groups, applauding ALPA’s elaborate network of volunteers and acknowledging the important contribution they make.


“Because airline pilots serve as the last line of defense, ALPA members have always had a vested interest in making sure we stay one step ahead of the intelligent, adaptive adversary who poses a threat to the aviation domain,” said Prater, in his opening remarks at the Security Forum.

Capt. Robb Powers (Alaska), ALPA’s National Security Committee chairman, explained that today’s Aviation Security Forum would begin with an analysis of the Northwest Flight 253 (the 2009 Christmas Day bomber) incident, and segue into an assessment of current terrorist capabilities and the best defense against these threats, in particular ALPA’s proposed trust-based screening system.


In the opening minutes of the Jumpseat Forum, Prater recalled his first jumpseat experience, 37 years ago. He remembered that the flight’s captain told him, “If you see something wrong, speak up”; those words resonated with the ALPA president as a routine jumpseater throughout his career. Summarizing the value of this added cockpit presence, Prater said, “We are an asset.”

Today’s Jumpseat Forum included a series of presentations and panel discussions, examining pilot-in-command-authority, the jumpseating process, and accessing international jumpseats.

First Officer Rich Odbert (FedEx), ALPA’s National Jumpseat Committee chairman, noted that pilots and representatives from more than 50 airlines attended the ALPA Jumpseat Forum. He thanked all the pilot volunteers for their commitment and service.

Pilot Assistance

“Our industry and our profession were on trial last year,” Prater told attendees at the Pilot Assistance Forum, acknowledging the recent government and media attention to pilot training and proficiency standards. He talked about the sometimes difficult challenge in balancing professional responsibilities with private concerns.

ALPA’s executive pilot assistance chair Capt. Jerry McDemott (Continental) acknowledged the hard work of the five Pilot Assistance disciplines—the Aeromedical Committee, the Canadian Pilot Assistance Committee, the Critical incident Response Program (CIRP), the Human Intervention and Motivation Study (HIMS), and the Professional Standards Committee—and the elaborate network of services they provide to ALPA members.

Air Safety

ALPA’s Executive Air Safety Committee used the first day of the Forum as an opportunity for its Operations Committee (OPSCOM) and technical groups to meet individually to review current projects. The OPSCOM, which consists of central air safety chairmen from each of the Association’s 38 member airlines, also talked about the status of voluntary self-disclosure programs like ASAP and FOQA, and heard a briefing from a Sennheiser representative on the risks of hearing damage and loss due to extended exposure to jet engine noise.

The Forum is intended to be a biennial event, but the overwhelming amount of positive feedback from last year’s four-day production persuaded the Association and its participating committee structure to present an abbreviated version this year.

On Tuesday, the public portion of the ALPA’s Air Safety Forum begins. The honorable Nancy Graham, director, Air Navigation Bureau, International Civil Aviation Organization, will be the event’s keynote speaker.

Stay tuned for more coverage.