December 08, 2023

ALPA Concentrates Efforts Emphasizing the Need for Two Pilots on the Flight Deck

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l has been engaged this week in a concentrated campaign to warn the public about a significant threat to aviation safety—attempts by some airlines and aircraft manufacturers to reduce the number of pilots required on the flight deck. This public outreach comes as European regulators have already signaled that they are open to the idea of fewer pilots on the flight deck, and Airbus is developing an aircraft that it hopes will achieve certification for operation with a single pilot at the controls.

In partnership with the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and the European Cockpit Association (ECA), we are educating the public through “Safety Starts with 2” (SSW2)—a multifaceted, global education campaign launched earlier this year about the hazards of removing pilots from the flight deck.

This week, we are amplifying the SSW2 message through a myriad of communication efforts. Across our social media platforms, we are exploring myths and facts associated with reduced-crew operations. The November–December issue of Air Line Pilot hit inboxes and mailboxes this week with a series of articles on the subject:

Rounding out these efforts, a new episode of the Air Line Pilot podcast—“The Risks of Reduced Crew Operations”—launched Wednesday. Capt. John Sluys (ALA), ALPA International Affairs coordinator, and Capt. Bill Secord (FDX), ALPA Reduced Crew Operations Committee chair, join ALPA president Capt. Jason Ambrosi for a conversation about the dangers of reduced-crew operations and the work pilots are doing together to stop it. To listen, search your favorite podcast platform for “Air Line Pilot.”

Simple Flying picked up the message, publishing their own article this week: “Single-Pilot Cockpits: US Pilot Union ALPA Weighs in on the Dangers.”

“Regardless of the creativity that proponents use—reduced crew operations, extended minimum crew operations, or something else entirely—we know that the best safety tool onboard an aircraft is a minimum of two well-trained, highly qualified pilots on the flight deck at all times,” said ALPA president Capt. Jason Ambrosi. “As an airline pilot of more than 25 years, I can tell you that the safety of flight relies on always having at least two pilots on the flight deck. Anything less is a gamble with safety.”

While proponents suggest that a reduction in crew would initially only apply to long-haul cargo flights, approving the plan would open the door to expanding the practice to passenger flights, which could eventually include the possibility of remotely piloted or even autonomous flight.

Further highlighting the need to always have at least two qualified, experienced, and well-rested pilots on the flight deck is the Association’s annual Superior Airmanship Award—presented this year to the flight crews of Delta Air Lines Flight 2259 and Envoy Air Flight 3556 for their skill and professionalism in handling inflight emergency situations. These are just two examples of many situations each year in which highly trained airline pilots work as a team to avert disaster in ways that automated systems cannot.

Join the #SafetyStartsWith2 conversation and share our posts on social media today: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.