Airline Industry Update
Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met in early March with
United Parcel Service, Inc., and FedEx Corp. to appeal to the two cargo
airlines to adopt the new flight-time/duty-time rules imposed on passenger
airlines, reported Bloomberg. Before the meeting took place LaHood
commented, “I hope they’ll voluntarily adopt our guidelines. We’re going to
have a conversation. This is a good rule, and I’m going to ask them to
• Per The Washington Times,
Transportation Security Administrator (TSA) John Pistole, speaking at the
National Press Club on March 5, said that the TSA will continue to target
high-risk travelers and “move away from a one-size-fits-all security model.”
Pistole said the Precheck screening program, which allows travelers who
provide personal information to move through screening more quickly, is one
example of this risk-based approach. However, he also said random pat-downs
will continue for now.
• According to The Wall Street Journal,
airlines are putting a lot of thought and money into lie-flat seats and
the perfect cabin configuration, one that provides total passenger
comfort but won’t result in lost seats. The goal is to attract the
profitable business-class long-distance traveler.
• Per AAAE Security SmartBrief, a
U.S. House of Representatives committee has approved a bill that would
require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to donate change
left at airport security checkpoints to an organization that serves members
of the military. Travelers left more than $400,000 in change at
checkpoints in 2011, according to the TSA. “The lost change should be put to
good use, and I know the USO will make those thousands of coins have a
positive impact on millions of our nation’s warriors,” said Rep. Jeff Miller
(R-Fla.), the bill’s sponsor and chairman of the House Veterans Affairs
• USA Today reported that Alaska Air
Group CEO Bill Ayer has announced his plans to retire on May 15. Ayer,
57, will continue to serve as the chairman of the board for the parent
company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Brad Tilden, president of Alaska
Airlines, will succeed Ayer as CEO.
• Airlines are increasing the size of
overhead bins to accommodate more carry-on luggage, according to the
Associated Press. Boeing is also designing overhead bins with more space as
more travelers are bringing carry-ons to avoid luggage fees. “We never used
to talk about how many bags would fit. We talked about volume,” said
Boeing’s Kent Craver.
• AMR Corp., the parent company of American
Airlines, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.1 billion, compared with
a $97 million loss for the same quarter a year earlier, reported The Wall
Street Journal. The company posted a full-year loss of $1.98 billion.
• According to the Star Tribune,
Delta is adding digital entertainment to its list of services. On longer
U.S. flights, passengers can use their laptops to access the airline’s Wi-Fi
portal to purchase movies starting at $3.99 and TV shows starting at 99
cents. The airline says the service is a convenient way for customers to
watch a specific movie or program without paying for Internet access.
Congress Must Act to Ensure U.S. Ex–Im Bank Fosters U.S. Economy and
On March 12, ALPA called on the U.S. Senate to take swift action to
ensure that the Export–Import Bank of the United States fulfills its legal
responsibility to protect U.S. jobs when it finances foreign airlines’
“Aircraft financing already represents more than 40 percent of all financing
granted by the Export–Import Bank of the United States,” said Capt. Lee Moak,
ALPA’s president. “Ex–Im Bank financing for widebody aircraft is expected to
grow rapidly in the near future, and the threat posed to the U.S. airline
industry and its workers by the Bank’s using U.S. taxpayers’ money to
support our nation’s competitors is very real.”
In a letter to U.S. senators, the Association asked legislators to direct
the Obama administration to negotiate with the five European countries whose
export credit agencies support Airbus aircraft sales with the goal of
eliminating export credit agency financing of widebody airplanes. This would
eliminate credit agency financing of both Airbus and Boeing widebody
airliners and allow all airline purchasers to compete for financing on a
level playing field.
ALPA also called on Congress to ensure that the U.S. Export Bank fulfills
its congressionally mandated duty to analyze any potential financing to
ensure that granting such financing would be a net positive for U.S.
industry and employees. The reauthorization for the Ex–Im Bank is slated to
come before Congress in the coming weeks, and ALPA urges legislators to
include the strongest possible language in the bill to require the Bank to
fulfill its responsibility to conduct an economic impact assessment and make
certain that its financing will not harm U.S. industry.
Over the past five years, the Ex–Im Bank has provided financing to
foreign airlines for dozens of widebody airplanes at a financing rate that
is not available to U.S. airlines. Many of these Bank-subsidized airliners
are used on routes that have been served, are currently served, or could be
served by U.S. airlines to increase the U.S. airline industry’s contribution
to the national economy and support jobs for U.S. airline industry
“Congress must take a stand for the U.S. airline industry and its
workers,” Moak said. “The U.S. airline industry and its tens of thousands of
employees need Congress to include language in the Ex–Im Bank
reauthorization to ensure the credit agency uses U.S. taxpayers’ money to
help our nation’s economy, better position the U.S. airline industry to
compete in the global marketplace, and create and maintain jobs for U.S.
airline industry workers.”
Click here to view The FlightDeck segment on the Ex–Im Bank.
Sleep Study Backs Up Need to Apply Fatigue Rule to Cargo Pilots
“The National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 ‘Sleep in America’ poll vividly
illustrates the risk posed by fatigue to transportation workers and the
particular challenges that airline pilots face in delivering on their
commitment to achieving the highest standards of safety,” said Capt. Lee
Moak, ALPA’s president, regarding the poll results.
“With the release last December of the FAA’s new science-based flight-
and duty-time regulations and minimum rest requirements, airline pilots who
fly passengers became far better positioned to receive the rest they need to
perform their jobs safely. Of grave concern, however, is that the FAA
excluded pilots who fly cargo from these safety regulations due to concerns
about cost to their airlines. ALPA’s adamant position is that, regardless of
whether the pilot flies passengers or cargo, all airline pilots are human
beings and deserve equal protection from fatigue under FAA regulations.
“The National Sleep Foundation poll is the latest evidence of the serious
risk,” Moak noted. “ALPA respectfully urges the administration to heed this
latest poll—and the compelling and conclusive science that preceded it—and
bring cargo pilots under the new pilot fatigue rules. Given the risk we know
exists, this is no time to rest in the pursuit of safety.”
ALPA Comments on FAA Proposed Rule on Minimum Pilot Qualifications
“The FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding minimum
qualification standards for airline first officers is the culmination of
many months of intensive work by the FAA and industry stakeholders,” said
Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president, in late February.
“The First Officer Qualifications Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) was
established as a result of the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation
Administration Extension Act of 2010, which directed the FAA to modify the
flight experience and training necessary for an individual to become an
airline first officer. ALPA served on the ARC with the goal of ensuring that
air transportation achieves the highest possible level of safety,” Moak
“The pilots of ALPA thank Congress for underscoring the importance of
rigorous qualifications and training standards for first officers, and we
commend the FAA for establishing the First Officer Qualification Aviation
Rulemaking Committee to solicit recommendations from across the industry.
ALPA has advocated that the quality of training is a key component in
establishing the quality of the pilot, more than just total flight hours.
This proposed rule appears to recognize that in determining qualifications
and ability to serve as an airline pilot.”
The proposed rule would
• mandate, consistent with a mandate in the
Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010,
that first officers hold an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate,
requiring 1,500 hours of pilot flight time. The proposal would also require
first officers to have an aircraft type rating,
• require a pilot to have a minimum of 1,000
flight hours as a pilot in air carrier operations that require an ATP before
serving as a captain for a U.S. airline,
• mandate enhanced training requirements for an
ATP certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and
completion of a new FAA-approved training program, and
• allow pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours of
flight time, but who have an aviation degree or military pilot experience,
to obtain a “restricted privileges” ATP certificate. These pilots could
serve only as a first officer, not as a captain. Former military pilots with
750 hours of flight time would be able to apply for an ATP certificate with
restricted privileges. Graduates of a four-year baccalaureate aviation
degree program would be able to obtain a restricted ATP with 1,000 hours of
flight time, only if they also obtained an airline pilot certificate and
instrument rating from a pilot school affiliated with the university or
“ALPA’s pilot and staff experts will evaluate the proposed rule and
submit comments as appropriate to further the union’s goal of advancing
safety,” concluded Moak.
FAA’s Aviation Forecast Fuels Many ALPA Policy Goals
On March 8, the FAA released its projection that U.S. airline passenger
travel will nearly double in the next 20 years, while it anticipates cargo
traffic on U.S. airlines will more than double from 2012 to 2032. The
forecast for intensifying demand reinforces the importance of many of ALPA’s
policy priorities, including modernizing U.S. air transportation through
NextGen and applying the FAA’s new fatigue rules to pilots who fly cargo.
The FAA’s report, “FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2012–2032,” was
released in conjunction with the 37th Annual FAA Aviation Forecast
Conference, held in Washington, D.C. In his remarks to open the conference,
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said that NextGen was among the top
items on his agenda, stating in a news release, “Our investment in NextGen
is the key to getting passengers and cargo to their destinations more
safely, faster, and with less impact on the environment.”
According to the FAA forecast, total mainline and regional airline
enplanements would increase from 730.7 million in 2011 to 1.23 billion in
2032, an average annual growth rate of 2.5 percent. Domestic enplanements
are projected to decrease 0.1 percent in 2012, and then grow an average of
2.4 percent per year during the remaining 20-year forecast. International
enplanements are forecast to increase 1.9 percent in 2012 and then grow an
average of 4.2 percent per year for the rest of the forecast period. Total
system enplanements are expected to reach 1 billion in 2024. Total air cargo
revenue ton miles are projected to increase from 37.3 billion in 2011 to
101.8 billion in 2032, up an average of 4.9 percent per year. Domestic
revenue ton miles are expected to increase 1.6 percent per year, while
international cargo is anticipated to increase 6.0 percent per year.
The two-day FAA Forecast Conference, which was centered on the theme
“Aviation—Driver of the Global Economy,” touched on many of ALPA pilots’ top
policy priorities, including U.S. airlines’ ability to compete in the global
marketplace, energy policy and fuel costs, and the airline industry’s
environmental commitment. The Conference panelists, who included
representatives from regulatory agencies, airlines, airports, manufacturers,
and other industry stakeholders, also emphasized the importance of managing
economic volatility through developing both optimistic and pessimistic
forecasts and the need for agility in reacting to unforeseen events such as
the 2003 SARS outbreak and the fuel spikes of 2008.
In his remarks, FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta underscored the
importance of pursuing NextGen, stressing that the FAA now has a new
four-year authorization and that President Obama’s budget proposes $1
billion for NextGen. “The American people deserve an aviation system that
can keep pace with our increasing reliance on air travel, and NextGen will
help us get there,” he said.
Mesa Pilots Want to Know: What’s My Future Here?
Mesa pilots marked the one-year anniversary of negotiations in early
March by asking, “Mesa Management: What’s My Future Here?”
Just days after the company exited bankruptcy in 2011, the pilots entered
into Section 6 negotiations. Now one year into the process, the pilots and
management have tentatively agreed to eight sections of the contract. Rapid
progress was initially made by going through many of the administrative
issues and those that had little effect on the bottom line. As the issues
became more substantial, however, management made it clear that it would not
agree to any changes unless they were “cost neutral” or reduced current pay,
benefits, and work rules. The parties have made very slow progress over
seven months, with no additional tentative agreements. During a recent
bargaining session in February, several items were closed and another
section was tentatively agreed to, but much work still needs to be done to
secure a contract.
The Master Executive Council has been holding road shows to provide
pilots with an in-depth look at negotiations, including what’s happening in
the industry and how it relates to Mesa.
Family Awareness Event Kicks Off “Comair Rebuild”
For the past two years, the Comair pilots have faced many challenges,
including furloughs, loss of aircraft, and a revolving door of management
personnel. On March 3, however, Comair pilots gathered to kick off a
campaign that focuses on the future: Comair Rebuild.
More than 130 pilots, family members, and children came out to a
Cincinnati Cyclones hockey game to get information about the new campaign,
learn the latest about negotiations, and have a good time. The kids also
went home with a free Cyclones jersey.
“We know we have a long road ahead of us,” said Capt. Erik Jensen, the
pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman. “But our objective is to
rebuild this company to what it was. This can be accomplished when the
pilots and management work together toward a common goal with a common
vision of the future. It’s more than survival—we are aiming for renewal.”
The MEC has distributed bag tags, stickers, and construction hats with
the new slogan and is staying in touch with the pilot group across multiple
channels—including podcasts, all-pilot calls, and additional Family
ALPA Reps Attend AABI Conference
Capt. Dave Farmer (Delta), chairman of ALPA’s Leadership Committee, and
ALPA staff members participated in the winter conference of the Aviation
Accreditation Board International (AABI) in mid-February in Auburn, Ala. As
part of the conference, town hall meeting participants examined a proposal
by John Allen, director of the FAA’s Flight Standards Service, to create a
U.S. Aviation Academy Program (USAAP).
The Program would address the anticipated pilot shortage by offering a
specialized four-year scholastic and flight training program. USAAP would
establish a board to set standards for participating U.S. academic
institutions that offer these programs—schools like AABI-accredited Auburn,
Embry-Riddle, and the University of North Dakota. The cost would be borne by
contributions from airlines, government, participating colleges, students,
and private philanthropies.
The conference also featured an industry/educator forum, which examined
promoting safety in collegiate aviation programs and establishing a
framework for professionalism, responsibility, and decision-making.
Participants discussed how best to prepare student aviators for real-life
situations and how to bolster the public image of new pilots as
The next AABI conference will take place in Montreal, P.Q., in July in
conjunction with the International Civil Aviation Organization and its Next
Generation of Aviation Professionals initiative.
The AABI, composed of many large and small universities and colleges in
the United States and Canada, sets accreditation standards for those
institutions’ aviation programs. The organization also audits member
programs on an ongoing basis to ensure that they meet or exceed established
Education Committee Update
Committee Participates in Ace Club Meetings and Other Events
ALPA’s Education Commit-tee is working to establish an ACE Club this year
at the University of North Dakota (UND) and is continuing to support the ACE
Club at ERAU-Daytona Beach. The Committee plans to use video conferencing at
ACE Club meetings so that subject-matter experts can attend without being on
location. Video conferencing will allow the Committee to hold ACE Club
events at smaller schools that are unable to support individual ACE Clubs.
In March, Committee members attended the Women in Aviation Conference in
Dallas, Tex., and the Maus Middle School’s 8th Grade Career Day in Frisco,
Tex. In May, the Committee will participate in the Kingsbury Center Career
Day in Washington, D.C.
Interested in volunteering at an Education Committee event?
here for more information.
The Committee would like to remind ALPA members to take a few minutes
each month to participate in student surveys posted on the Education
Committee website. Aviation students, some of whom are current ALPA pilots,
need to gather survey information as part of their course of study. To
participate in a survey,
Canada Board Meets, Approves Strategic Plan
ALPA’s Canada Board convened in mid-February in Vancouver, B.C., to
review its draft strategic plan and communications action plan. After a
lively discussion, the Board unanimously approved the plan with the mission
“to work collectively as the leading advocate and representative for the
Canadian professional pilot, with a focus on safety.”
Board members discussed several topics, including
• flight time/duty time and the Fatigue
Management Working Group,
• promoting captain’s authority with regard to
• new Canadian SID/STAR phraseology,
• a new regulation that restricts airspeed
below 10,000 feet,
• runway safety,
• pending legislation affecting Canadian
During the meeting, the Board also heard a report from the chairman of
the Board of Insurance Trustees (BOIT) Committee and reviewed proposed new
BOIT trust documents, which the Board approved.
The Canada Board will convene again in December.
ALPA Represents Canadian Members at Various Meetings
At the end of January, Réal Levasseur, an ALPA senior staff engineer,
participated with other airline industry partners in a Transport Canada-led
one-week focus group on CRM. The focus group was working to accelerate
CRM-related recommendations for the 702, 703, and 704 airlines through
various levels of the regulatory process.
During the first week of February, Levasseur took part in a risk
assessment working group dealing with Transportation Safety Board of Canada
recommendations on CVR updates, stemming from the Sept. 2, 1998, Swissair
accident, which claimed the lives of all 229 crew and passengers. This risk
assessment is required before the regulatory change proposals can be
forwarded to the Canadian legal department.
On February 7–8, Levasseur participated in the second meeting of the NAV
CANADA/Transport Canada performance-based navigation (PBN) Working Group.
With input from interested sectors of the airline industry, the WG is making
progress toward implementing the regulatory framework required to support
this technology. Some of the benefits of PBN are reduced fuel consumption
and greenhouse gas emissions and safer and increased traffic flow in
During February 14–17, Levasseur attended the 50th NAV CANADA Advisory
Committee (NCAC) meeting and annual general meeting of the corporation. The
NCAC reviews all aspects of the services that NAV CANADA provides and makes
recommendations to the Board. Elections for the positions of chair, vice
chair, and secretary were held at the end of the meeting. Levasseur was
appointed secretary of the NCAC for a two-year term.
During the third week in February, Levasseur attended the joint Safety
and Training Council meeting in Herndon, Va. Participants discussed
stickshaker/stall recoveries, rudder limitations and training, multicrew
pilot licenses, ASAP, and mentoring. Canadian attendees from Air Transat and
Jazz had the opportunity to meet their U.S. counterparts and discuss issues
of mutual concern.
ALPA Negotiations Update
The following is a summary of the status of ALPA contract negotiations
by airline as of March 9, 2012:
Air Wisconsin—A Section 6 notice was filed on Oct. 1, 2010.
Negotiations continue April 17–20, May 15–18, June 10–13, and August 28–31.
Atlantic Southeast—A Section 6 notice was filed on May 20, 2010. A
joint Section 6 notice was filed on March 28, 2011. Atlantic
Southeast/ExpressJet joint negotiations continue.
Bearskin—A notice to bargain was sent on Sept. 1, 2011.
Negotiations continue April 10–12 and 24–26.
CanJet—A notice to bargain was filed on Dec. 1, 2011. Negotiations
continue April 23–27 and May 21–25.
Comair—A Section 6 notice was filed on Sept. 27, 2010.
Continental—Negotiations are under way on the Continental/United
joint collective bargaining agreement (JCBA). The parties requested
assistance from the National Mediation Board (NMB) on Dec. 17, 2010.
Evergreen—Negotiations began in December 2004. ALPA became the
pilots’ bargaining agent in November 2007. A tentative agreement was reached
on April 16, 2010. The pilots voted against ratification on Aug. 16, 2010.
ExpressJet—A Section 6 notice was received on May 28, 2010. A
joint Section 6 notice was filed on March 28, 2011. Negotiations are under
way for the Atlantic Southeast/ExpressJet JCBA.
First Air—A notice to bargain was filed on Oct. 1, 2010.
Negotiations are under way.
Mesa—A Section 6 notice was filed on Sept. 10, 2010. Negotiations
continue April 24–26, May 8–9, and June 12–14.
Piedmont—A Section 6 notice was sent on March 13, 2009. An
application for mediation was filed with the NMB on April 21, 2010.
PSA—A Section 6 notice was sent on Jan. 19, 2009. A joint
application for mediation was filed on July 12, 2011. Negotiations continue
April 9–13 and May 8–10.
Ryan—A Section 6 notice was sent on Sept. 2, 2011. Negotiations
continue April 2–6, April 30–May 2, May 29–June 1, and June 18–22.
Sun Country—A Section 6 notice was sent on Feb. 23, 2010.
United—A Section 6 notice was sent on April 6, 2009. Negotiations
are under way on the United/Continental JCBA.
ALPA Security Structure Representatives Meet
Security and jumpseat chairmen/coordinators representing 23 ALPA master
executives councils met in Herndon, Va., March 13–14 during the first
plenary session of the Association’s reorganized security structure. Capt.
Sean Cassidy, ALPA’s first vice president and national safety coordinator,
opened the meetings and provided a general overview of the current state of
the ALPA Board of Director’s safety and security priorities. Capt. Fred
Eissler (FedEx Express), ALPA’s aviation security chair, chaired the plenary
During the course of the two-day event, Security Council and Jumpseat
Council members convened in separate break-out sessions to discuss pertinent
matters of interest at individual airlines, to redefine each group’s
operating procedures to ensure conformity with ALPA’s Administrative Manual,
Section 85, and to plan for the Association’s 2012 Annual Air Safety Forum.
In addition, each group discussed a number of matters of interest that were
referred to the aviation security chair for consideration and potential
The program included presentations by the Transportation Security
Administration’s (TSA) chief of Explosive Operations Division,
representatives of TSA’s Security Policy and Industry Engagement Division,
and ALPA’s Government Affairs Department.
The full security structure will next meet in Washington, D.C., during
ALPA’s annual Air Safety Forum, August 6–9.
Letters to the editor may be submitted via regular mail to Air
Line Pilot, Letters to the Editor, 535 Herndon Parkway, P.O. Box 1169,
Herndon, VA 20172-1169, or by e-mail to
Thanks for your diligent work on the Known Crewmember program. It’s good
to see things finally taking shape after many years. It will be a great
benefit to pilots and help ease congestion for passengers at the regular
security lines. I will not miss getting undressed in the security line. Good
F/O Bob Taylor (Delta)
The pilots of ALPA
I wanted to commend you on your recent January/February issue, “The
Pilots of ALPA 2012.” It was very informative and gave pilots an update on
what’s happening at all of our fellow ALPA pilot groups. I did, however,
notice an inaccuracy that I hope we can correct. The “CAL at a Glance” info,
page 36, says the pilot group joined ALPA in 2001. It might be more
accurately stated that the Continental pilots rejoined ALPA in 2001, similar
to FedEx’s listing as rejoining ALPA in 2002.
To not reference Continental’s proud ALPA history dating back almost 80
years is a disservice to those Continental ALPA members who held out and
endured one of the longest, nastiest strikes (1983–1985) in ALPA history. I
was one of those pilots who joined Continental after the strike in a merger
with People Express (the original). But it has been my extreme pleasure over
the last 25 years to fly with and work alongside many extraordinary men and
women helping to return Continental to ALPA. Proud ALPA “full-term strikers”
worked tirelessly with Continental ALPA members who had joined the airline
from other ALPA [pilot groups]; [other ALPA-represented pilots], many of
whom were strikers who hadn’t returned or left Lorenzo’s airline for ALPA
[pilot groups]; enlightened Continental and ExpressJet IACP members
(Continental and Continental Express’s independent joint union); a few like
me who joined ALPA previously under ALPA’s Independent Airman Program in the
late 1980 to return the Continental and ExpressJet pilots back to ALPA where
they rightfully belonged; and ALPA staff members.
There were plenty who fought us in the crew rooms and courtrooms to
prevent Continental’s return, but we prevailed in 2001 and returned
Continental Airlines to the Air Line Pilots Association, International!
I certainly hope next year’s issue will be corrected to display
Continental’s proud history for all of Continental’s distinguished battle
star recipients to view, whether they are still flying at Continental,
somewhere else, or enjoying Air Line Pilot in retirement with pride!
Scratch that, I hope to see next year’s issue with Continental displayed
with our new United brother and sisters, having achieved a long-overdue
joint contract and listed together, highlighting both pilot groups’ proud
Capt. Chris Lynch (Continental)
Editor’s note: Continental pilots do indeed have a long and proud
history as ALPA members. We apologize for the oversight.
In the January/February 2012 “The Pilots of ALPA” issue, [an article]
describes Piedmont Airlines as “a successor to Allegheny Airlines and one of
the oldest airlines in the United States,” with “a rich history and an
important place in the airline industry.” It sounds to me as if [this
statement] is describing the “original” Piedmont, which was folded into
USAir some 25 years ago. The existing Piedmont is simply the renamed Henson
Airlines. Several years ago, USAir renamed its largest regional affiliates
in a tribute to the various airlines it merged with or it had previously
acquired: Piedmont, Allegheny, and PSA in particular.
In the box on the bottom of page 48, it states that Piedmont’s pilots
joined ALPA in 1952. Henson Airlines didn’t even exist until 1962. Again,
[this date refers] to the original Piedmont, whose remaining pilots today
are part of US Airways.
In the synopsis of ASTAR, [it says of] the carrier’s DC-8 aircraft:
“...by 2000 ASTAR was mainly using the DC-8s for cargo, with very few
exceptions.” There were no exceptions. ASTAR never flew any of its aircraft
in a passenger configuration. The DC-8s were acquired by ASTAR (operating as
DHL Airways at the time) already in full cargo configuration, and they
remained that way permanently. In fact, they’d already been flying as
freighters for several years before joining the DHL/ASTAR fleet. (I was a
pilot for the carrier between 1997 and 2001.)
F/O Patrick Smith (Delta)
Editor’s note: The 1952 date is indeed incorrect and refers to the
original Piedmont Airlines. The pilots of the current Piedmont Airlines
joined ALPA in 1984 as Henson, the Piedmont Regional Airline. Regarding the
ASTAR article, the sentence in question was originally written to refer to
DC-8s in general, not those flown specifically by ASTAR. Some words were
dropped during the editing process, which changed the meaning of the
Pilots for Kids
I am writing to thank you for the heartening story of Zach Drew in the
March issue. Kudos to John Perkinson for an excellent article.
The Pilots for Kids organization was briefly mentioned in the article,
and I wanted to expound upon it a little.
Every year, thousands of children just like Zach are hospitalized, often
away from friends and the familiarities of normal childhood. It can be a
terribly frightening experience for a child, amid tests and treatments.
Doctors and nurses are given the overwhelming task of caring for and
befriending these kids in their time of need. But the reality is that there
is a shortage of volunteers willing to spend time with these children to
make their stay a little more comfortable.
This is where Pilots for Kids comes in. Imagine a child’s amazement at
seeing a group of real-life airline pilots in uniform coming to hang out
with them! It’s easy to forget just how cool we are to a child full of
imagination. The look in the eyes of kids whom PFK volunteers visit every
year is universal—wide-eyed with big smiles!
Spending time playing with, chatting with, and making crafts with
hospitalized children is one of the most rewarding opportunities this career
has afforded me. Pilots for Kids organizers are in nearly every major city
in the U.S. and often make multiple visits to children’s hospitals over the
holidays. Every single cent donated to the organization goes directly to
children. Volunteers are always welcomed, no matter what you can contribute.
Visiting these children is a humbling and extremely uplifting experience,
emotions we sometimes rarely experience in uniform.
In short, donning my uniform every year to visit hospitalized children
with Pilots for Kids is the most rewarding trip I take in uniform. I hope
that other ALPA pilots will consider doing the same.
has a list of cities with yearly events and a link on how to join the
organization. Dues are $15 per year and pay for membership and newsletters,
along with a lanyard, flight bag stickers, and wristbands.
F/O Steven Flesch (ExpressJet/Atlantic Southeast), Communications
Coordinator, ALPA Air Safety Organization
Delta Pilots’ “Leading the Industry” Contract 2012 Negotiations Begin
On March 13, the Delta pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) Negotiating
Committee and management exchanged Section 6 openers. With contract
negotiations now under way, every MEC committee is engaged in some fashion
with the “Leading the Industry” Contract 2012 effort. In the same way that
the internal team is working together, the next step is to strengthen pilot
unity—the single most important aspect for succeeding in 2012. To that end,
the Delta Pilot Network, a subcommittee of the MEC Communications Committee,
is physically expanding its presence all across the U.S. to where Delta
The Delta Pilot Network will provide venues and opportunities to get
local pilots together with Pilot Unity Building events. These events will
allow the Delta Pilot Network and ALPA leaders to share information, listen
to concerns, address rumors, and receive feedback, all in a casual social
setting. Pilot Unity Building events recently took place in Cincinnati,
Ohio; Seattle, Wash.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. Weekly code-a-phone messages
and targeted e-mails/calls will be used to announce future events.
As fuel prices continue to rise, many major U.S. airlines have been
shedding capacity as a means of controlling costs. These capacity cuts are
now affecting their regional flying partners as well. Express flying
partners typically fly passengers on smaller airplanes from smaller airports
to a major’s hub airport. As fuel prices have continued to rise (and are
well above the prices when many of these aircraft were ordered), operating
smaller jets has become a less cost-effective way to provide feed to the
hubs. Not surprisingly, as costs have increased, the demand for smaller jet
flying has decreased.
Data from the OAG show the drop in regional carriers’ block hours and
available seat miles since the first quarter of 2010. Overall, pilots of
jets with 50 seats or fewer have seen a 4 percent drop in block hours and
available seat miles since 2010. The more notable changes started to occur
in the third quarter of 2011 and continued through the first quarter of this
year. In addition, with AMR in bankruptcy and its business plan not fully
developed, it is still unclear how its regional flying may change.
Operators of turboprops are also facing capacity cuts. Although turboprop
operators did not see the decline in block hours as early as small jet
operators did, the later decline has been more pronounced in the second half
of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. Overall, domestic turboprop block
hours are down 10 percent since 2010. Additionally, AMR has announced that
American Eagle’s ATR fleet is likely to be retired in the near future, and
some pilot furloughs have already been announced.
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