Air Line Pilot
September 2011
Table of Contents

Aviation Matters
Weighing In
Pilot Commentary
Tribute to Crewmembers of First Air Flight 6560
ALPA’s 57th Air Safety Forum—Top Safety, Security, Environment, Jumpseat, and Pilot Assistance Issues
9/11/2001: The Longest Flight of My Life
Known Crewmember Launches at Chicago O’Hare
Chronicling ALPA’s Strategic Plan—Protecting ALPA and Its Pilots: BOD Delegate Committee 6
From the Hill
Shaping History


Aviation Matters

Setting ALPA Apart
By Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA President

Last month, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l held its 57th Air Safety Forum—an event that has grown into the premier aviation safety forum in the world. As ALPA’s president, I felt proud and privileged to be involved in this remarkable undertaking. A tremendous amount of work goes into hosting this important event. From the months-long planning to the on-site coordination, pilot leaders and staff put together a program that showcases ALPA’s efforts as a globally recognized aviation safety advocate.

The Forum also underscored ALPA’s involvement in virtually every aspect of our industry and of our profession, including contract negotiations, pilot benefit and retirement plans, communications, providing expert testimony and written analyses to legislators and regulators on a wide variety of subjects, and more. In short, ALPA is the voice of professional airline pilots throughout the U.S. and Canada.

While this is one of the strengths that make our union unique, another is the “ALPA team”—a powerful combination of pilot volunteers and staff professionals who bring their vast knowledge, experience, and technical expertise to the many initiatives in which ALPA is involved. Some notable examples include

• Negotiating contract gains for ALPA pilots, which ultimately raise the bar for all airline pilots in the U.S. and Canada. Most recently, the pilots of Trans States Airlines ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a signing bonus, wage increases, better work rules, and stronger job security provisions. Throughout the five years of negotiations, the pilot leaders, supported by ALPA staff and bolstered by ALPA’s national officers and 38 other pilot groups, held firm and delivered a contract that meets their pilots’ needs.

• Designing retirement and benefit plans that are tailored specifically to each pilot group.

• Assisting several independent unions in their contract negotiations by providing in-depth economic and financial analyses, thorough evaluations of their retirement and benefit plans, and recommendations for their proposals. ALPA’s Economic & Financial Analysis Department is unmatched in its ability to provide this tailored information.

• Representing the pilots’ voice as not only the premier pilot union, but the only labor organization invited to such high-profile conferences as the annual JP Morgan Transportation Conference.

• Delivering up-to-date information on current events and issues that affect our livelihoods and careers using a variety of communications media. One of our main strategic goals is to continue to enhance our communications with our members and other stakeholders. Since 2008, we have expanded our communications portfolio significantly, thereby reaching an ever-increasing audience worldwide. From the new digital version of ALPA’s award-winning Air Line Pilot magazine and other electronic publications that readers can access on their laptops or smartphones to social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter to video programs such as “The FlightDeck” that are produced by in-house multimedia professionals, ALPA is respected as the source for industry news.

• Giving pilot volunteers the tools they need to best represent their members and the profession. ALPA trains pilots in accident/incident investigation, collective bargaining, information technology, and news media relations, in addition to the training that we provide to pilot group leaders in their daily operations of the master executive councils.

ALPA-sponsored events such as the Air Safety Forum, conferences, and training seminars draw not only ALPA pilots involved in Association activities, but also representatives from other pilot unions, industry partners, government officials, and others from around the world. These events speak volumes to the professionalism of ALPA pilots and staff. And they set the tone and tenor for how our Association is viewed throughout the airline industry by all other stakeholders.

No other aviation labor or advocacy group can offer what your union offers. This is why legislators, regulators, manufacturers, operators, other aviation organizations, and independent pilot unions seek out ALPA’s subject-matter experts and tap into their knowledge and experience. They engage with ALPA because we have proven to be so effective in advancing our mutual goals.

The Air Line Pilots Association has distinguished itself by our professionalism, by our support for our fellow pilots regardless of an affiliation with ALPA, and by our constructive engagement in every area of aviation. These unique characteristics not only set ALPA apart, they enable the Association, your Association, to advance our mission on behalf of our 53,000 members, our profession, and the airline industry.

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Weighing In

The Air Safety Organization: New Name, Same Core Mission
By Capt. Sean Cassidy, ALPA First Vice President

Air Line Pilot’s coverage of the Air Line Pilots Association’s 57th Air Safety Forum showcases the union’s steadfast and focused efforts to make the airline piloting profession safe, secure, and successful.

Our 80 years of contributions to the airline industry, the theme for the event, are well-documented. The welfare of our crews and our passengers and the safe operations of our airlines around the globe have been enhanced through our interaction with government regulators, involvement in the legislative process, and improvements collectively bargained with our managements.

The Forum gives our members the opportunity to access the most up-to-date safety, security, and pilot assistance information; participate in expert panel discussions; and stay engaged with their union. Because ALPA is known as the voice of airline pilots, the event also affords attendees the opportunity to “recalibrate” their radars and stay abreast of the latest changes in the aviation world.

W. Edwards Deming famously said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” The irony of that quote illustrates perfectly our need to choose the path of change as a means to not only survive, but to prosper.
Sticking with the theme, ALPA leaders took a long look at the union’s air safety configuration and determined that the time was right for change. Accordingly, our venerable safety structure got a slight makeover. We adopted some new policies and reconfigured the previous structure into the new Air Safety Organization (ASO). We did not set out to fix something that was broken but looked for ways to make a great organization even better.

While there has been very little functional change to the committee structures at the ground level, the view from 33,000 feet is quite different. For the first time in our organization, we have a unified approach to safety—placing all of our national safety, cargo, environment, security, pilot assistance and jumpseat functions under one roof. By better coordinating these functions and linking them more closely to our union structure at the master executive council (MEC) level, members’ voices will be better heard. And the links between the front line and the front office will be stronger and more direct. I believe that this will ultimately make the system more responsive, flexible, and efficient.

The expansive scope of our safety mission was evident to all who attended the Forum and participated in the workshops or tuned in to live TV and streaming webcasts. They were able to listen to the heads of ALPA, the FAA, the NTSB, the ATA, the TSA, and the U.S. ambassador to ICAO discuss current topics and pose questions directly to our panelists. This year a new panel composed of Senate and House staff and ALPA MEC legislative affairs experts demonstrated how important it is to have smart and focused legislative support behind the safety initiatives we advocate for on behalf of our 53,000 members both in the halls of Parliament in Ottawa and on Capitol Hill (see “Congressional Staffers, Lobbyists Tell All”).

Perhaps two recent events—one that preceded the Forum and one that followed—demonstrate how varied and widespread ALPA’s mission is. One week before the Forum, we witnessed the product of a lot of hard work and very close collaboration among ALPA, the TSA, and the ATA when ALPA participated in the opening of the first Known Crewmember site at Chicago O’Hare Airport (see “Known Crewmember Launches at Chicago O’Hare”).

And just days after the Forum, we learned about the tragic crash of First Air Flight 6560 in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada. In support of our members, our Accident Investigation Board mobilized immediately to begin working with the Canadian Transportation Safety Board. Meanwhile, our ALPA Pilot Assistance volunteers in Canada began assisting our First Air members in the aftermath of this tragedy. I could not be more proud of the professionalism, expertise, and compassion that our members have demonstrated. That truly is the hallmark of our safety organization.

While events such as the Forum bring together safety stakeholders from around the globe, there will never be any substitute for “boots on the ground.” As important as national leadership and staff support are in the safety equation, ALPA’s rank-and-file members always have been—and always will be—the ones who make the ASO work, and make it work better.

Enjoy this issue of Air Line Pilot, and let us know how we’re doing.

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Pilot Commentary

The Entitlement Mentality
By Capt. Joe Doniach (United)

Years ago, then-United CEO Glenn Tilton said something about how he wanted to get rid of the “entitlement mentality” of United employees. Of course, his remark was extremely offensive, especially since he said this while using the airline’s bankruptcy to gut our contracts. But in my opinion he was absolutely correct. The employees did (and still do) have an entitlement mentality, and until we pilots (I will only speak here for my own occupation) rid ourselves of this dangerous delusion, we will be condemned to make the same mistakes over and over that have brought about the destruction of our profession.

In my 30+ years as an airline pilot, I have heard time and again why we should be well paid, even as our average pay has declined 42 percent over that same period. My answer is always, “Why? What makes you think you are worth more than a third-world pilot who makes one-tenth what you do? What makes you think you are worth more than the regional pilot to whom your captain’s seat was outsourced?” The response is usually huffing and puffing about how experience, skill, and an excellent safety record should be properly rewarded.

Again, my question is, Why? There’s no economic justification for these things. Sure, when the ship is going down in flames, passengers want highly skilled and experienced pilots with excellent safety records to be at the controls, but it’s not possible to justify these items in economic terms, at least not until a tipping point is reached.

Every union airline pilot should know that the high pay scales of the past had absolutely nothing to do with our abilities as pilots. Nothing! The high pay scales of previous contracts were the result of the prescience and persistence of Dave Behncke and the founders of ALPA nearly 80 years ago. Thanks to their skill in lobbying the Roosevelt administration and the U.S. Congress, a mandatory formula for airline pilot pay was codified by the 1933 National Recovery Administration (NRA). On the principle that pilots should benefit from productivity increases (pay to productivity), the formula tied pay to aircraft speed. The formula was appealed by the airlines, but it was upheld by an administrative law judge in what is known as Decision 83.

After the NRA was nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court, ALPA convinced Congress to include the Decision 83 formula in the 1934 Air Mail Act and then the 1938 Civil Aeronautics Act. In the late 1940s, the formula was expanded to include weight in addition to speed. The benefits of the Decision 83 formula paid off handsomely when the first generation of jets—the B-707 and the DC-8—began flying in the late fifties and early sixties. With the jets having gross weights and speeds nearly double those of their piston-engined predecessors, pilots flying them were paid rates that were a huge increase over the previous rates, because the new jets were so much more productive.

Decision 83 set the standard—that pilots should be paid according to productivity—in all ALPA contracts, and indeed throughout the world, because ALPA in the United States was for so many years the world leader in airline pilot labor union negotiations.

And therein lies the problem. Most pilots forgot, or never knew, all this Decision 83 stuff. They simply thought that we were worth so much because we graduated No. 1 in our class at the Air Force Academy or because daddy paid our way through Embry-Riddle or because we worked our way up the civilian aviation ladder or because we haven’t caused a passenger fatality since 1978. In other words, they think we are entitled to a decent station in life because of who we are.

Think about this the next time you are bouncing along in the tops at 35,000 feet and you see the little specks of corporate jets flying above all the weather at 50,000 feet: CEOs don’t make the mistake of thinking they are entitled to their monstrous salaries. They know that they make what they do because of the rules that dictate how our society is organized. And that is the answer to why we were paid high salaries in the past, and why those salaries have shrunk. It is because of the rules that determine how our society is organized, i.e., here in the United States, the laws passed by the U.S. Congress. Those rules, those regulations, are everything. Deregulation? There ain’t no such thing. All that the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act did was get rid of one set of rules and replace them with another.

The top 1 percent of the United States—the CEO class, the new oligarchy—now owns more than the bottom 90 percent of the United States because they exploit the rules of this country to the maximum extent that they can get away with. (And I’m not just talking about the laws, I’m talking about the rules, rules such as not pursuing tax cheats, etc.) We pilots do the same—we exploited the 30 years of airline regulation to the maximum extent possible, and we are now trying to exploit the pathetic remnants of rules (the Railway Labor Act, the FARs) that still govern our economic well-being. That we have not yet been able to reverse the decline in any meaningful way is not an indication of our failure in the area of labor negotiations—it just demonstrates that those rules are stacked against us. But blaming ALPA for those failures in and of itself is a failure—a failure to understand how our societal rules have changed.

Unintended or not, the consequence of Decision 83 was a positive feedback loop in which the high pay of the airline piloting profession attracted extremely capable, talented, high-achieving people who were, and continue to be, the main reason for the industry’s superb safety record. As is clear from the range of endeavors of those who have been furloughed, people who become airline pilots would be at the top of whatever profession they chose to pursue. The airline industry and the traveling public have benefited immensely from this dynamic, but, although it has taken many years to sink in, the allure of the profession is fading, and it no longer attracts the sort of candidates of the past. Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger spoke for all of us in his testimony before Congress when he said that he does “…not know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.”

Capt. Sullenberger went on to say, “I am worried that the airline piloting profession will not be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest. The current experience and skills of our country’s professional airline pilots come from investments made years ago when we were able to attract the ambitious, talented people who now frequently seek lucrative professional careers. That past investment was an indispensible element in our commercial aviation infrastructure, vital to safe air travel and our country’s economy and security. If we do not sufficiently value the airline piloting profession and future pilots are less experienced and less skilled, it logically follows that we will see negative consequences to the flying public—and to our country.”

In the end, it all comes down to the question of how we want to organize our society. Do we want to live in a banana republic, a third-world country, the new Russia? Or do we want to live in a country with a strong, egalitarian middle class? The iconic middle-class existence of 1950s America didn’t come about because Americans are more deserving than other people. It came about because the Americans of the 1930s and 1940s had had enough of a society that allowed a few to prosper mightily while everyone else ate their crumbs, and they elected politicians who passed laws that gave everyone a chance to live out their lives in dignity and security. We had what we had because our predecessors fought for those things, and we lost what we had because we came to believe that we were entitled to them.

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Airline Industry Update

• The FAA announced on August 1 that air traffic controllers are once again able to ride in aircraft cockpits with airline pilots as part of a voluntary education program. “This program gives our new generation of air traffic controllers a chance to see and hear what the pilot is experiencing so they know exactly what is happening on the other end of the microphone,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “As a pilot, I think this important training will give controllers a richer picture of the airspace system.” The Flight Deck Training program replaces a previous program called Familiarization Training, or FAM trip, which was suspended in 2001. Flight Deck Training is being introduced as a trial program that the agency will evaluate and monitor over the next six months.

• The Los Angeles Times reported that increasing demand and reduced capacity pushed airline ticket prices in the first quarter of 2011 up 8.4 percent from the same period a year ago and near a new record high, according to government statistics. The average ticket price was $356, just a few dollars lower than the high of $359, set in the summer of 2008.

• The FAA announced that LightSquared has modified its proposal for launching a wireless broadband network, but the proposed network would still interfere with the Global Positioning System. “The effects of LightSquared deployment would be far-reaching and potentially devastating to aviation. Proposed LightSquared operations would severely impact the efficiency and modernization of the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world,” according to a report from the FAA’s Navigation Services (see “FCC Agrees with ALPA, Others—LightSquared Interference Too Much for GPS”).

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has set a deadline of December 31 for screening all cargo bound for the U.S., reported Air Cargo World. The TSA emphasized that December 31 is a goal, not a fixed deadline, and that many countries already comply with the cargo screening rule.

• The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported in late July that U.S. scheduled passenger airlines employed 2.1 percent more workers in May 2011 than they did in May 2010. This is the sixth consecutive increase in full-time equivalent employee (FTE) levels for scheduled passenger airlines from the same month of the previous year and the largest year-to-year increase since February 2008. FTE calculations count two part-time employees as one full-time employee.

In May and June, inclement weather contributed to an increase in long so-called tarmac delays for airlines—despite an April 2010 Department of Transportation rule fining airlines for tarmac delays longer than three hours. Fourteen flights were delayed on the airport for more than three hours in June, compared to three the previous year. Between May and December 2010, the rule reduced the number of flights waiting longer than three hours on the airport to 15.

Singapore Airlines is ordering eight more Boeing-777-300ERs worth US$2.3 billion as part of its growth and aircraft replacement plans, reported Flight Safety Information. The airline will receive the new aircraft starting during 2013–2014 and will operate them on medium- and long-haul routes.

• According to The Washington Post, food-preparation companies that cater to airlines are turning to more packaged products as carriers look to increase profits with “pay-per-chew” snacks and meals. At the Gate Gourmet facility near Washington Dulles International Airport, 650 employees prepare about 18,000 meals a day for 17 airlines.

Front Lines

Trans States Pilots, Management Sign Contract

On August 1, Trans States Airlines pilots and management held a contract signing ceremony at the airlines’ headquarters in Bridgeton, Mo. Just days before, on July 29, the pilots overwhelmingly voted to ratify the tentative agreement reached with management. Of the 85 percent of eligible pilots who voted, 93 percent voted to ratify the agreement, which includes a signing bonus, wage increases, better work rules, and stronger job security provisions.

After opening remarks by Fred Oxley, the airlines’ chief operating officer, key management personnel and ALPA leaders discussed the importance of reaching an agreement after more than five years of negotiations.

“This is the end of the old contract and also the start of a new contract—and a new beginning for all of us, a new beginning focused on a better and more productive airline, and the beginning of building better relationships,” said Capt. Jason Ruszin, the pilots’ Master Executive Council chairman.

“Although this was often a complicated, challenging, and demanding process, in the end we were able to work together and accomplish the task at hand, and that is what is most important, and we are very proud to be here today signing a new agreement,” said Rick Leach, the airlines’ president. “Our focus now is where we want to go in the future, and that is to strengthen our 28-year history and to become an even larger and more strategic player in the regional airline industry.”

Capt. Randy Helling, ALPA’s vice president–finance/treasurer, added, “We are pleased to see this come to a conclusion that meets the needs of both sides and positions us for a strong future.”

Delta Pilots Prepare For Negotiations

The Delta Master Executive Council (MEC) is hosting a series of pilot road shows to help prepare for Section 6 negotiations. The first three road shows were held in Atlanta, Detroit, and Seattle, with the next eight taking place across the nation at pilot domiciles and in cities with a high pilot presence.

Capt. Tim O’Malley, the pilots’ MEC chairman, opened recent road shows with a presentation on airline industry economics and an overview of other pilot groups’ contracts. F/O Parri “Scrappy” Olmstead, the MEC Negotiating Committee chairman; Capt. Roger White, the Strategic Planning Committee chairman; and Capt. Kevin Powell, the Retirement and Insurance Committee chairman, have also taken part in the discussions. The road shows concluded with a question-and-answer session, one of many opportunities pilots will have to provide their input during the coming months.

Eagle Pilots Reach Job Progression and Protection Agreement

In late July, American Eagle pilots reached an agreement with American Eagle and American Airlines that will provide all Eagle pilots the opportunity to be hired by American Airlines in the future. This job progression and protection agreement is the most significant of eight recent agreements between the pilots and American Eagle, negotiated in anticipation of the potential divestiture of Eagle from AMR Corporation, American Airlines’ parent company.

“Regardless of American Eagle’s ownership status, we remain committed to protecting pilot jobs and career aspirations,” said Capt. Anthony Gutierrez, the pilot group’s Master Executive Council chairman.

In addition to providing job protection and career progression for Eagle pilots, the agreement provides Eagle with the ability to control pilot longevity over a significant amount of time while simultaneously providing American Airlines a guaranteed inflow of qualified pilots who have considerable tenure in the American Airlines system. Under this agreement, Eagle pilots will occupy a minimum of 35 percent of every American Airlines new-hire class.

“American Eagle pilots have proven time and time again that they are capable of being effective partners in the success of their airline so long as management keeps the needs of its employees central among its business goals,” Gutierrez said.

“I’m a strong proponent of career advancement agreements and pilots working with management to create an environment for mutual success,” said Capt. Lee Moak, the Association’s president. “This settlement is an indication of ALPA’s, Eagle’s, and American’s ability to work together for a successful outcome for all three parties.”

Continental, United Billboard Promotes Pilot Unity

“Continental and United Pilots. Dedicated. Professional. Unified.” That’s the message displayed on a billboard located at the main entrance to Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The United and Continental pilots are using the billboard to send a strong message to management, the public, and pilots about the professionalism they exhibit as airline pilots and the solidarity of the two pilot groups as they work to reach a joint collective bargaining agreement with management.

ALPA Places Flight-Time/Duty-Time Ad in Politico

To stress ALPA’s concern about the FAA’s missed deadline to issue a much-needed aviation fatigue rule (see “Missed Fatigue Rule Deadline Continues to Place Passengers and Cargo at Risk”), the Association placed an advertisement in the August 3 Politico, a print newspaper read by members of Congress that covers political news focusing on national politics, Congress, advocacy, and lobbying.

Moak Appointed to AFL-CIO Executive Council

Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l was recently named a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, which meets at least twice a year to review union business and policies and issue statements on legislation that affects organized labor. Moak is one of 54 members.

In addition to Moak’s appointment, the Council issued a statement about previous ALPA president Capt. John Prater. “The AFL-CIO Executive Council thanks Capt. Prater for all he has done for this Council, for pilots, and for all of America’s working families.”

American Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President Lorretta Johnson and Sheet Metal Workers President Joseph Nigro are the other new members appointed to the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Education Committee Looking for Volunteers

Last spring, ALPA’s Education Committee reached out to member pilots to help build a database of universities throughout the United States and Canada that offer flight education/technology degrees. The Committee greatly appreciated the feedback it received.

The Committee is now looking for member pilots who are alumni or who live near Southern Illinois University; Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology of Saint Louis University; or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. The group is also searching for pilots who work or have worked with the Boy Scouts of America.

If you have a degree in a flight education/technology program from one of these schools, live near one of them, or are involved with the Boy Scouts and would like to help out, click here to complete and submit the Education Committee’s online form.

ALPA Attends AABI Conference

ALPA Communications Department staff recently attended the summer conference of the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) in Norman, Okla. The AABI, made up of large and small universities and colleges in the U.S. and Canada, sets accreditation standards for those institutions’ aviation programs. The organization also audits members’ programs on an ongoing basis to ensure that they meet or exceed the established standards.

For the past two years, ALPA has been working with the AABI to help create a liaison between academia and the airline industry to help develop a high level of professionalism in the next generation of airline pilots. The main focus of the conference was the Industry/Educators Forum, which centered on the FAA’s recent academia symposium.

During the upcoming University Aviation Association Fall Education Conference and the AABI Winter Meeting in February 2012, reports will be presented regarding curriculum and accreditation ideas discussed at the AABI summer conference.

ALPA Announces Scholarship Recipients

The Association has chosen the recipients of the 2011 ALPA Scholarship Award.

A new four-year scholarship was awarded to Rocky Rogel, son of deceased S/O Robert Rogel (United). Rocky will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., majoring in aeronautical science.

Jillian Sanning, daughter of medically disabled F/O Matthew Sanning (United), had her 2010 scholarship renewed. Jillian is enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Tyler Renslow, son of deceased Capt. Marvin Renslow (Colgan), had his 2009 scholarship renewed. Tyler attends the University of Florida.

A new special one-year scholarship was awarded to Caitlin Walton, daughter of deceased Capt. Dean Walton (United). Caitlin will be attending Pacific Lutheran University.

Each year the Association sponsors four $3,000 scholarships that are available to the children of medically retired, long-term disabled, or deceased ALPA members. ALPA’s vice president–administration/secretary and vice president–finance/treasurer review all applications, select the recipient, and report to the Executive Council on their selection. One scholarship is granted to an enrolling college freshman and is renewable for three additional years, provided the student maintains an adequate grade point average.

All applications are carefully reviewed with consideration given to financial need and academic performance before a selection is made. At the time new applications are reviewed, the academic records of the currently enrolled college students are also reviewed to determine if they are eligible to have their scholarships renewed.

Applications for the 2012–2013 school year may be obtained from Maggie Erzen, Air Line Pilots Association, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. The application period begins in January, and applications must be received no later than April 1, 2012.

Capacity Update

As the economy struggles to find its footing, airlines are positioning themselves to best respond to reduced demand or higher prices. Most airlines are doing this by adjusting capacity. Capacity, the number of seats available to be sold per mile, is also referred to as available seat miles (ASMs). When 2011 began, the industry was coming off a profitable 2010, with a strong outlook on demand. Early into 2011, oil prices began to surge based on that expected demand. With oil prices surging, but demand still strong, airlines were able to increase revenue through higher ticket prices. As fuel prices appeared ready to keep rising, airlines reacted with capacity cuts for the second half of 2011, most occurring late in the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2011. The current economic instability has now pushed fuel prices back down but may contribute to declining demand. Thus, adjustments to second half 2011 capacity appear to have been prescient.

For airlines with ALPA pilots, capacity in the first half of 2011 was up nearly 7 percent from a year earlier; however, in the second half of 2011, capacity was up barely 1 percent from the second half of 2010. Broken down by airline type, a range of capacity decisions are being made. While major airlines with ALPA pilots increased capacity by more than 5 percent in the first half of 2011, those same airlines scaled back capacity in the second half of 2011 below the level in 2010. Conversely, national airlines increased capacity by more than 20 percent in the first half of 2011 and by more than 10 percent in the second half of 2011. ALPA pilots at regional airlines saw a 7 percent increase in capacity during the first half of 2011 but will see only a 5 percent increase in capacity in the second half of 2011. Canadian airlines’ capacity seems slightly less affected than their U.S. counterparts. Canadian airlines with ALPA pilots increased capacity in both the first and second halves of 2011 by 19 percent.

ALPA Negotiations Update

The following is a summary of the status of ALPA contract negotiations by airline as of Aug. 19, 2011:

Air Transport International—A tentative agreement (TA) was reached on Dec. 3, 2010. On March 14, the pilots voted against ratification. Mediation continues.

Air Wisconsin—A Section 6 notice was filed on Oct. 1, 2010. Negotiations continue September 7–9 and October 4–6.

Atlantic Southeast—A Section 6 notice was filed on May 20, 2010. Negotiations are under way. A joint Section 6 notice was filed on March 28, 2011. Negotiations continue September 6–8, 13–15, 20–22; October 4–6, 18–20, 25–27; and November 1–3. See ExpressJet.

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. Mediation continues September 20–22 and October 4–6.

Comair—A Section 6 notice was filed on Sept. 27, 2010. Negotiations continue August 20–September 1, September 6–9, October 10–14, November 1–4, and December 19–22.

CommutAir—A Section 6 notice was sent on Feb. 2, 2009. An application for mediation was filed with the NMB on Dec. 2, 2010. Mediation continues September 6–9, 12–16; October 10–14; and October 31–November 4.

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. Mediation continues September 19–23.

ExpressJet—A Section 6 notice was received on May 28, 2010. A joint Section 6 notice was filed on March 28, 2011. Atlantic Southeast/ExpressJet joint negotiations continue September 6–8, 13–15, 20–22; October 4–6, 18–20, 25–27; and November 1–3.

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 September 14–16 and October 20–21.
Piedmont—A Section 6 notice was sent on March 13, 2009. An application for mediation was filed with the NMB on April 21, 2010. Negotiations continue.

PSA—A Section 6 notice was sent on Jan. 19, 2009. Negotiations continue August 29–September 1 and September 19–22.

Sun Country—A Section 6 notice was sent on Feb. 23, 2010. Negotiations are under way.

Trans States—A TA was reached on July 12. The pilots ratified the agreement on July 29.

United—A Section 6 notice was sent on April 6, 2009. Negotiations continue on the United/Continental JCBA. See Continental.

Engineering & Air Safety Update

Missed Fatigue Rule Deadline Continues to Place Passengers and Cargo at Risk

On August 2, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l expressed serious concern that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is causing delay in issuing updated flight- and duty-time limits and minimum rest requirements. Congress mandated an August 1 deadline for issuing these important safety regulations, which would apply equally to all airlines. This delay continues to place the safety of airline operations at risk.

“This is a safety regulation, and it is unacceptable that the OMB appears to have been pressured by a few companies whose goal is advancing their own competitive interests rather than ensuring the safety of the U.S. air transportation system,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president. “By missing this critical deadline, the White House has stalled a historic, safety-based regulatory effort to create modern duty and rest regulations for U.S. airline pilots.”

In 2009, ALPA, along with other stakeholders from across the aviation industry, participated in the FAA’s Flight/Duty Time Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The ARC submitted its recommendations to the FAA in September 2009, meeting its deadline as a result of cooperation among government and industry partners who were working toward a shared goal of creating science-based regulations. Taking into account the ARC’s recommendations, the FAA developed proposed regulations that would form the foundation of a regulatory framework to address fatigue.

“Together, the FAA, the airlines, and airline labor created a proposal for science-based regulations that take into account today’s operating environment, provides airlines with scheduling flexibility, and gives pilots the opportunity for the rest they need to perform their jobs and achieve the highest possible safety standards,” Moak said.

The lack of standardized, science-based flight- and duty-time regulations in the U.S. has drawn considerable attention from aviation safety organizations worldwide. The NTSB has placed addressing human fatigue on its “Most Wanted List” of transportation safety improvements since the list’s inception in 1990. In addition, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which sets international safety standards for aviation, has mandated science-based pilot fatigue rules, and the U.S. currently fails to comply by not having modern science-based regulations.

As a result of international and national transportation policy concerns and airline accidents associated with pilot fatigue, in 2010 Congress passed legislation directing the FAA to develop and issue science-based regulations to address pilot fatigue by Aug. 1, 2011.

“With each hour of delay beyond the deadline, airline passengers and crews are needlessly put at risk when we know that the solution to addressing pilot fatigue lies in science-based regulations that apply to all types of flying,” concluded Moak. “The government must stand up for the safety of air transportation in this country and issue new regulations now.”

Go to for more info.

ALPA Continues Work on Secondary Barriers

In late July, ALPA security representatives participated in an RTCA Special Committee (SC)-221 meeting in Washington, D.C. SC-221 is charged with establishing minimum operational performance standards for secondary cockpit barriers installed in airliners to supplement protection provided by the fortified flight deck door.

Committee members and government representatives discussed finalizing the SC-221 report, which is due to be submitted by September 29. Handling sensitive security information contained within the report was the primary focus of discussion. With the assistance of the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration, the Committee formatted the report to align with U.S. government guidelines.

The Committee has no additional meetings planned. The final document was slated to be submitted to RTCA on August 31.

ALPA encouraged the FAA and the airline industry to create this committee as part of its plan to complete action on the Board of Directors priority for implementing secondary barriers. The Association has participated in all SC-221 meetings since its inception in December 2008.

FCC Agrees with ALPA, Others—LightSquared Interference Too Much for GPS

The efforts of ALPA and other GPS users appear to have changed the position of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) on the proposed LightSquared broadband network and its interference with GPS.

Early in 2011, the FCC granted conditional approval to deploy a large number of high-powered telecommunications transmitters operating on frequencies immediately adjacent to those used for low-powered GPS signals.

LightSquared, a wireless communications provider, was advised that interference studies needed to be conducted to determine the effect of their system on GPS. ALPA was asked to be part of the industry group conducting tests and studies that, when conducted, demonstrated that significant potential existed for disrupting GPS. The studies have confirmed the near certainty of major losses of GPS function across North America.

ALPA became the first airline pilot organization to join the “Save Our GPS” coalition of industry stakeholders opposed to the LightSquared plan. ALPA’s president, Capt. Lee Moak, detailed the Association’s concerns in a letter to the House Aviation Subcommittee in June. In July, responding to an FCC call for comments regarding LightSquared’s license application, ALPA once again highlighted the potential of the proposed system to adversely affect GPS across the country. In both communications, ALPA outlined the effect on safe, precise navigation, overall capacity, and the long-term degradation of efforts to implement NextGen if the LightSquared system is allowed to operate to the limits of its license application. The Association’s comments highlighted the immediate and long-term effects, both operationally and economically, and emphasized that several studies all indicate that the interference with GPS would be severe and widespread if the LightSquared system goes into operation.

On August 9, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski informed members of the news media that the agency would not allow LightSquared to interfere with millions of GPS receivers on which pilots, mariners, emergency responders, and the public rely for navigation. The FCC said it was not able to commit regarding when the matter would be resolved.

For more information on LightSquared and the effect of its system on GPS, including technical studies and industry opposition to the planned system, click here.


NAV Canada Reports June Traffic Figures

NAV Canada announced on July 20 its traffic figures for the month of June 2011 as measured in weighted charging units for enroute, terminal, and oceanic air navigation services in comparison to the last fiscal year. Weighted charging units represent a traffic measure that reflects the number of flights, aircraft size, and distance flown in Canadian airspace. The traffic in June 2011 increased by an average of 3.5 percent compared to the same month in 2010. Fiscal year-to-date traffic was 4.7 percent higher than in fiscal year 2010. NAV Canada’s fiscal year runs from September 1 to August 31.

Credit Update

The recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating makes it an opportune time to look at the credit ratings of airlines. Credit ratings are opinions about relative credit risk. Credit ratings may play a useful role in enabling corporations and governments to raise money in capital markets. Instead of taking a loan from a bank, these entities sometimes borrow money directly from investors by issuing bonds or notes. Investors purchase these debt securities, expecting to receive interest plus the return of their principal, either when the bond matures or as periodic payments. Credit ratings can also speak to the credit quality of an individual debt issue, such as a corporate or municipal bond, and the relative likelihood that the issue may default. As a general rule, the more creditworthy an issuer or an issue is, the lower the interest rate the issuer would typically have to pay to attract investors. The reverse is also true: an issuer with lower creditworthiness will typically pay a higher interest rate to offset the greater credit risk assumed by investors.

Credit ratings are deemed to be either investment or speculative grade and start from AAA and progress downward. Standard and Poor’s considers anything under a BBB as speculative grade. The table shows the current credit ratings of airlines at the corporate level. Credit ratings given at a corporate level show the overall creditworthiness of the corporation, as opposed to a credit rating for a specific debt offering. Credit ratings for the corporate entities of airlines show an industry in a holding pattern. Most of the corporate credit ratings have a speculative grade rating of B, with Southwest and Federal Express being the exceptions. Standard and Poor’s defines a B rating as “more vulnerable to adverse business, financial, and economic conditions but currently has the capacity to meet financial commitments.” The outlook for most of the airlines’ corporate ratings is stable, meaning a change is not likely.

Airline   Current Rating   Outlook   Source
Alaska Air Group   BB-   Stable   S&P
AMR Corp.   B-   Negative   S&P
Delta   B   Stable   S&P
Evergreen Aviation Int’l   B-   Stable   S&P
Federal Express Corp.   BBB-   Stable   S&P
Global Aviation   B   Positive   S&P
JetBlue Airways Corp.   B-   Stable   S&P
Southwest   BBB-   Stable   S&P
United Continental Holdings   B   Stable   S&P
US Airways Group   B-   Stable   S&P


Airport capacity

I read with interest [“From ‘Shrimp Boats’ to Satellites” in the August issue] on the new so-called airspace system called NextGen.

As I have written in USA Today, I am not sure anyone in Congress or the American people “get it.” Although our air traffic control system is outdated, the real problem we all should be screaming about is a little thing called airport capacity. The last new airport was built years ago.

Right now, delays haven’t been horrible due to airlines’ reducing flight schedules since 9/11 and the recession—but just wait. When we do get rolling again, delays will skyrocket. Just take SFO, for example. With an overcast of just 1,000 feet, delays can easily jump to two hours—unbelievable considering the capability of the modern airliner to land in virtually zero-zero. We need to build new airports and runways now.

Capt. Kevin Sprague (United)

Editor’s note: ALPA certainly “gets it” when it comes to airport infrastructure as a driver of capacity. The Association has been doing all that it can to help push Congress to agree on a multi-year reauthorization of the FAA, which includes funding for airport construction projects.

Combating lithium battery fires

Thank you for the article on lithium batteries [in the August issue].

As I read the story, I was hoping to see something pertaining to the most effective method for combating a lithium battery fire while aboard a passenger jet. (Halon was reported as being ineffective).

I am referring to a cabin fire (computer) or a flight deck fire. I recall that some airlines are planning to distribute iPads to flight crews, for flight deck use, replacing our 50-pound flight bags.

Shouldn’t we address this potential threat as well?

Capt. J.D. Payne (Continental)

Editor’s note: In May 2008, ALPA issued Safety Alert 2008-1, Revised Guidance for In-Flight Passenger Portable Electronic Equipment Fires, which recommends that a lithium battery fire in the cabin be contained by dousing the battery with liberal quantities of water. Recent FAA testing proved that water reduces the heat of a battery fire and effectively prevents other cells or batteries from igniting.

Proper language, please

In the August issue, page 7, the item pertaining to turtles crawling onto the tarmac at JFK—just where is the tarmac?

I can’t find it in the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Manual. I do find apron, taxiway, runway, but no such place as a tarmac. Do pilots need to now consult NBC, CBS, etc., for proper aviation terms?

Capt. G.C. Good (Northwest, Ret.)

Editor’s note: We understand that “tarmac” (short for “tarmacadam,” or “tar-penetration macadam”) is a type of paving material, patented by Edgar Purnell Hooley in 1901. It also is a registered trademark, and is widely—but wrongly—used as a generic term for tar-based paving surfaces.

And that’s the rub: We slipped into the general vernacular that, albeit incorrectly, refers to any paved surface on an airport as “tarmac.” This usage has gained further traction through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Tarmac Delay Rule” that went into effect in April 2010.

Many other incorrect examples of English language usage exist in the airline world. For example, when air traffic controllers say, “Attention all aircraft…,” do they really mean to talk to all aircraft, or to all pilots?

Sudoku logic?

It’s not that it’s too easy—it’s not: it does require narrowing down possible choices for each of the multiple squares. It’s not that it’s too difficult—it can be solved. It’s just that it’s not a puzzle that can be solved logically. For me, at least, it required at the latter stages two guesses that, if wrong, resulted in a reductio ad absurdum. Sure, at that time, you go back and choose the other option. But that’s not a logical puzzle. Pilots don’t make choices on a guess that may result, say, in flying up a blind box canyon. Get my drift? Please select puzzles that are solvable strictly by logical means and not by rolling the dice.

Capt. Doug Bodkin (Continental, Ret.)

Editor’s note: Good sudokus don’t require guessing. As the letter writer notes, they should be able to be deduced by logic. Air Line Pilot uses as its source a web-based program that computes whether any guesses need to be made, and even what logic methods need to be used to solve the puzzle and how many times each method is required. The sudoku in the August issue was rated “really tough” with “no guesses required.”

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Tribute to Crewmembers of First Air Flight 6560

In honor of the fallen First Air crew of Flight 6560. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your families, and the victims.

First Air Flight 6560 crew:

Capt. Blair Rutherford
F/O David Hare
Purser Ann Marie Chassie
Flight Attendant Ute Merritt

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ALPA’s 57th Air Safety Forum—Top Safety, Security, Environment,
Jumpseat, and Pilot Assistance Issues

One Level of Safety: 80 Years and Counting

During ALPA’s 57th annual Air Safety Forum, past and present ALPA leaders and government regulators called on aviation advocates to fly in formation and coordinate our efforts to effect change in the political arena. Here are a few sound bites from keynote speakers:

Deborah Hersman, National Transportation Safety Board chairman, on flight-time/duty-time limits

“ALPA is still leading the way, and we are still talking about flight and duty time [limits]. We share your frustration with the special interests that are putting profits ahead of safety and slow rolling the publication of the final rule.”

Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA president, on ALPA’s formula for success

“Our success is also due to our constructive engagement and partnership with the many stakeholders—from legislators and regulators to manufacturers and operators, other employee groups, unions, and ALPA pilot groups—who share our goal of advancing the highest standards of air safety. I believe that this type of collaboration is paramount to accomplishing this mission.”

Capt. Duane Woerth, U.S. ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization, former ALPA president, on ALPA’s history

The 80th anniversary of ALPA’s founding is a time for celebration as well as an opportunity to remember the Association’s core values of safety, security, and pilot assistance, reminding members that while “defeats fly solo, victories come with wingmen.

“Most progress comes through the dogged persistence of countless aviation professionals. Bit by bit, inch by inch, they keep moving the ball forward.

“We will do it. We will do it all. We will not be the first generation to give up on our future because the sledding is mostly uphill, because it’s always been uphill. We will live up to the legacy of past generations,” he said.

Randy Babbitt, FAA administrator, former ALPA president, on ALPA’s role in one level of safety

“ALPA has been key in helping us achieve one level of safety. To continue the effort, we need to create a common safety standard internationally. We need something we can all count on. A standard that we know is going to be uniform across the globe.”

John Pistole, TSA administrator, on aviation security

“Partnerships are critical. The whole approach that we at the TSA are taking is to try to work in partnerships to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way. I want to applaud ALPA, particularly, along with the ATA, in terms of the risk-based security initiatives.”

This year’s Air Safety Forum was held August 15–19 in Washington, D.C. For complete coverage, click here.

Jumpseat Forums

Cooperation and collaboration are at the heart of any successful jumpseat program, and those qualities were on full display at ALPA’s Jumpseat Forum.

F/O Rich Odbert (FedEx Express), ALPA’s Jumpseat Council chairman, welcomed pilot representatives from ALPA’s pilot groups as well as from American, JetBlue, Southwest, and UPS. The united goal: preserving cockpit and non-revenue access industrywide.

In his opening remarks to the Jumpseat attendees, Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president, outlined two major advancements secured this year by union pilots working together:

• In April, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) adopted significant policy changes regarding cockpit jumpseat access. Under the new policy, offline pilots will be able to ride in the cockpits of U.S. airliners on domestic flights, regardless of passenger load, and on international flights at the discretion of the airline, the pilot-in-command, and pursuant to complying with the TSA-mandated Master Crew List (MCL) requirements. International flight deck jumpseat access remains a work in progress, with additional details still to be worked out.

• In Canada, the director general of civil aviation has approved an exemption to Subsection 705.104(1) of the Canadian aviation regulations, clearing the way for airlines in Canada to provide jumpseat access to offline pilots and removing a major obstacle to full flight deck jumpseat access.

“These two victories are great examples of how pilots from different airlines, working together across company lines, can effect positive change,” Moak said.

F/O Rob Frank (Air Wisconsin), a Jumpseat Council member, discussed the ALPA-created jumpseat app for smartphones, which is currently running as an adjunct to the ALPA mobile app. “This new feature is available to all users of the app and can be accessed by tapping the ‘JSeat’ button at the bottom of the app. This feature provides a list of airlines and their jumpseat policies.”

Also during the Jumpseat Forum, F/O Jeff Sanford (Spirit) was presented with a recognition plaque for his work during the Spirit Airlines strike in 2010.—Rusty Ayers, ALPA Senior Communications Specialist


International Jumpseating: Some Strings Attached

Earlier this year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it was relaxing the rules that previously barred international cockpit jumpseating. However, substantial barriers remain to widespread implementation of worldwide commuting, especially for pilots flying for smaller airlines that don’t conduct international operations and that don’t maintain a TSA-mandated Master Crew List (MCL). Here’s how international flight deck access will work, according to the TSA’s Bob Vogt, who participated in ALPA’s Air Safety Forum.

Do you qualify for international flight deck access?

The cockpit jumpseat is only authorized for pilots holding U.S. airman certificates, flying for U.S. flag carriers from a U.S. destination and returning to the U.S. In addition:

For pilots of code-share partners and wholly owned subsidiary airlines:

All pilots authorized to ride in the flight deck jumpseat in accordance with 14 CFR 121.547 may do so, provided that the aircraft operator uses its automated identification system to verify the identity and current employment status of each requesting pilot before transporting the pilot, and also provided that the aircraft operator complies with all TSA MCL requirements.

For pilots of non-affiliated airlines:

Pilots who fly for other aircraft operators governed by 49 CFR 1544 may be granted flight deck jumpseat(s) access if a TSA-approved automated identification system is used to verify the identity and current employment status of the requester and if the requester’s name appears on a TSA-required MCL maintained and supplied to the TSA by the requester’s airline.

In summary, for offline international jumpseat access, ALL of the following conditions must be met:

• The jumpseating pilot must present his or her aircraft operator employee ID and employee ID number to the gate agent.

• The gate agent must query and receive a valid response from the automated identification system indicating that the pilot requesting access to the flight deck jumpseat has authority to do so.

• The gate agent must verify that the digital photo accompanying the valid response from the automated identification system corresponds to the pilot requesting access to the flight deck jumpseat.

• The jumpseating pilot’s name must appear on a MCL maintained and supplied to TSA by his or her own airline. Any flight carrying a pilot on the flight deck whose name does not appear on a TSA-mandated MCL will not be allowed to enter U.S. airspace.

For more information, click here.—RA


“Operation Hemorrhage”


A panel of government and industry security professionals, as part of ALPA’s Aviation Security Forum, debriefed pilot security representatives on the Oct. 29, 2010, ink cartridge terror plot.

The scenario:

Two U.S.-bound packages containing laser printers, originally from Yemen, were intercepted at East Midlands Airport near Leicester, UK, and Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Upon closer investigation, authorities determined that the printers’ ink cartridges were rigged with the explosive, pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN).

The packages were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago. Although detected before they crossed the Atlantic, the laser printers had already been transported on passenger and cargo flights. Al Qaeda later labeled the effort “Operation Hemorrhage,” claiming that the entire plot cost the terrorist organization $4,200.

The panelists:

• Capt. Bill McReynolds (FedEx Express)—ALPA’s President’s Committee for Cargo (PCFC) chairman and his pilot group’s Master Executive Council Security Committee chairman;

• Jeff Price—proprietor of Leading Edge Strategies, associate professor at Metro State College of Denver, and author of Practical Aviation Security;

• Norm White, an intelligence analyst with the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC); and

• Doug Foster, acting branch chief with the Air Cargo—International Policy Organization, Transportation Security Administration.


McReynolds discussed how security protocols differ for passenger vs. all-cargo operations. “The Israeli [security] model can’t work in the United States, but the methodologies can.”

Price stressed that security must be taught as part of collegiate aviation programs; the threat is evolving and so must our efforts; we should embrace “Kaizen”—the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement.

White talked about different kinds of explosives and detonation devices. “[The terrorists] are forcing us to reexamine our security and expend our resources.”

Foster reviewed screening protocols for high-risk regions, specifically looking at mail vulnerabilities. He said aviation security analysts are exploring very specific initiatives that concentrate on terrorist efforts to “target cargo before being loaded on an aircraft.”

Fine point:

Price noted that clues to possible new terrorist threats are available if we pay attention. Seven years before 9/11, author Tom Clancy wrote Debt of Honor, in which a pilot intentionally flies an airliner into the U.S. Capitol.—John Perkinson, Staff Writer


Security Forum Examines All-Cargo Security Threats

Capt. Bill McReynolds (FedEx Express), ALPA’s President’s Committee for Cargo chairman, provided a “macro view” of the unique risks associated with air freight, leading the group in a discussion about “where we see the threat and the holes that need to be filled.”

McReynolds noted that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is hiring additional cargo inspectors, and he talked at length about how current security efforts are shifting from a regulatory paradigm to a more threat-based approach.

Ed Kittel, the chief of the TSA’s Explosives Operations Division, discussed steps his organization is taking to better secure all-cargo aircraft, facilities, and the air cargo supply chain. He commented on a variety of improvised explosive device (IED) strategies that terrorists have used, differences in impact on the cargo hold vs. passenger cabin, and lessons learned. Kittel also cited the many partnerships the TSA has established with other government and industry security entities to combat these threats.—JWP

Staying One Step Ahead of Terrorists

A distinguished panel, moderated by Capt. Sean Cassidy, ALPA’s first vice president and national safety coordinator, dealt head-on with “Risk Mitigation in Aviation Security.”

TSA Administrator John Pistole was characteristically succinct and direct. “I have three main points to make today,” he said. “Number one, the threats are real, and evolving. Two, risk-based security makes sense. Third, partnerships [among government, industry, and union stakeholders] are critical.”

Nick Calio, Air Transport Association president, declared that “the airline industry is the physical ‘Internet’” and that ATA is “pleased to partner with ALPA on Known Crewmember…. We also look forward to [having a] trusted shipper program.”

Chris Bidwell, vice president for security and facilitation at Airports Council International–North America (ACI-NA), reported, “This morning, [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary [Janet] Napolitano said the private sector will need to take on an even greater role in aviation security. We will leverage intelligence and data provided by our partners in government.”

Bidwell stressed that the ACI-NA supports the Known Crewmember and Trusted Traveler programs and, with ALPA, the ATA, and the federal government, has a “shared goal of effective and efficient security screening.”

ALPA’s president, Capt. Lee Moak, commended Pistole for “the courage and wisdom he has shown in taking TSA on a course toward true, risk-based aviation security.

“We also commend our industry partners, the ATA and the ACI-NA, and others who share in this vision,” he added.

Moak cautioned, “To achieve success, we encourage the TSA to continue to reach out to industry subject-matter experts in truly meaningful dialogue, while policies are being shaped, not after, so that truly workable solutions are devised, and the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

“As always,” he concluded, “ALPA stands ready as a trusted and capable partner to help bring solutions to the table.”—Jan W. Steenblik, Technical Editor

Hotel Security Checklist

How secure is your layover hotel? Depending on the country and level of risk, the highest level of protection at an individual property can range anywhere from a simple deadbolt lock to blast barricades, metal detectors, and sharpshooters on the roof.

Alan Orlob, vice president of global safety and security for Marriott, International, is responsible for protecting all hotels in the Marriott system, including 37 properties in high-threat environments. Whether staying in Moline or Mogadishu, Orlob suggests that hotel guests review this list before they check in:

• Does the hotel have sprinkler systems, smoke evacuation routes, and other fire protection measures? Whether you’re at home or overseas, you are much more likely to be killed or injured in a hotel fire than in a terrorist act.

• Does the hotel have basic security devices like electronic door locks, viewports, night latches, and deadbolts?

• Does the hotel observe basic Western-style food sanitation standards? Food poisoning is a more likely problem than violence when traveling abroad.

• Does the hotel offer in-house restaurants, fitness facilities, and entertainment within its security perimeter?

• In high-threat areas, is the hotel’s security persistent and visible? Is the building set back from the street with prominent armed guards, CCTV cameras, and vehicle barriers?

Think your hotel is overdoing it with their security precautions? Remember this motto from former FBI Director William Webster: “Security is always too much…until it’s not enough.”—Rusty Ayers, ALPA Senior Communications Specialist

Security Threats in Mexico: What You Should Know

During the Association’s Air Safety Forum, representatives from the U.S. Air Force, the State Department, the FBI, and the DEA told ALPA security representatives that while the problem of cartel violence is very real, crews on layover or vacationing in Mexico are as safe as they would be in any other country if they exercise good judgment and take some commonsense precautions. They agreed that cartels realize killing foreigners is bad for business, and most drug violence is aimed at members of competing cartels and at police.

Drug barons and their gunmen, however, are heavily armed and becoming more indiscriminate in their attacks, blockading public highways, battling with police, and tossing grenades into crowded bars and restaurants. With such a high potential for collateral damage, in this environment being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be deadly.

“In Washington, D.C., going out and drinking too much can get you in trouble. In Mexico, it can get you killed,” warns Capt. Chris Malo (ExpressJet), manager of international operational security and threat assessment for Atlantic Southeast and ExpressJet.

Atlantic Southeast and ExpressJet have one of the largest airline operations in Mexico, serving 30 cities throughout the country, including 21 layover destinations. On any given night, the airlines may have 3 to 17 crewmembers in-country, many of them in Monterey, the “kidnapping hub” of Mexico.

Malo, a former ExpressJet Master Executive Council vice chairman, says the airline takes security for its employees very seriously and has updated its emergency preparedness and employee response programs, initiated a security incident telephone hotline, and created a security checklist for its crew hotels in Mexico. Layover hotels in the country must pass a strict security test.

The airlines have also created an innovative vehicle tracking program based on cell phone signals. The tracking system can direct van drivers around potential trouble spots or pinpoint the location of a crew vehicle in the event of an incident.

However, the best approach for staying safe in Mexico—or anywhere else—is keeping a low profile, being vigilant, and avoiding becoming a target of opportunity for a potential robber or thief, according to U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst Maj. Williams “Rob” Cannon.

“You should always have a plan for yourself,” Cannon said. “No one should be more concerned about your security than you are.”—Rusty Ayers, ALPA Senior Communications Specialist


Don’t Be a Target

Because of their high visibility, predictable movements, and fluid operations, airline crews can be at special risk for crime, and even more so when traveling outside heavily traveled tourist areas. But there are ways to protect yourself:

• Avoid traveling to high-risk areas whenever possible. Restrict sightseeing to daylight hours only, and don’t leave the hotel if the neighborhood is unsafe. Atlantic Southeast and ExpressJet require layover hotels in Mexico to provide lists of restaurants that will deliver food.

• Recognize that you are most vulnerable when you are in motion; raise your awareness level accordingly.

• Maintain a low profile. Don’t dress like a tourist or wear expensive watches or flashy jewelry. Most street crimes are based on perceived wealth and vulnerability.

• Avoid high-risk, compromising situations and unfamiliar bars and restaurants. You could become collateral damage if a cartel decides to target the location.

• Consider your transportation: to avoid kidnapping, use only radio-dispatched taxis rather than flagging down a cab on the street. Is the large, black SUV you’re in similar to vehicles used by police and drug bosses? Don’t become an accidental target.—RA


Mexican “Hotspots”

The U.S. State Department regularly issues consular updates with information on troubled areas around the world. Here’s some of the latest information on Mexico:

Areas of concern: Tamaulipas and Michoacán, Chihuahua and Sinaloa, Durango and Sonora, San Luis Potosi, Nayarit and Jalisco, Nogales and the surrounding area, and Guerrero and Morelos.

Guadalajara: Early this year, cartel-related crime spiked significantly after the death of a cartel boss in July 2010. The area has stabilized since the government increased security preparing for this October’s Pan American Games, but it remains to be seen whether crime will increase again once the Games are over.

Mexico City: The national capital is relatively immune to cartel violence except for isolated incidents in low-income suburbs surrounding the city. Street-level crime rates, however, remain very high, with most victims selected opportunistically based on perceived wealth (expensive watches and jewelry, high-end electronics, etc.).

Monterey: Formerly considered one of the safest cities in Latin America, Monterey is now a major hub for kidnapping and carjacking, with more than 1,000 murders in the state of Nueva Leon this year alone.

Tourist areas: The major problem areas remain Acapulco and Mazatlan, where several cruise lines have stopped making port calls. Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Cozumel, and Puerto Vallarta are very safe overall. Most robberies and assaults in these areas are crimes of opportunity conducted in outlying areas away from major tourist destinations.

For regular updates and alerts on hotspots around the world, visit the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council website at—RA

Panelists Agree Technology Must Include Human Touch

“Fifty percent of your time, you are performing below your average,” noted Dr. Immanuel Barshi of the NASA Ames Research Center, during the Air Safety Forum’s Human-Centered Approach to Flight Procedures and Operations panel discussion. As part of his initial presentation, he pondered whether checkrides and other pilot evaluations are an adequate reflection of routine performance. Barshi was one of five panelists who discussed human-factors considerations for improving aviation safety.

F/O Helena Reidemar, the Human Factors Committee chair for the Delta pilot group, noted that more than 60 percent of the identified causal factors for accidents involve human error. “There’s an awareness of the problem and a growing momentum to address it,” she said. Reidemar highlighted the wealth of information available, warning of the dangers of “death by data collection” and emphasizing the need to ensure that these statistics and other materials are used appropriately.

F/O Karl Fennell (United), ALPA’s director of Human Factors and moderator of the panel, compared the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 6231 in 1974 to recent accidents such as Colgan Air Flight 3407, Turkish Airlines Flight 1951, and Air France Flight 447, noting a mismatch between perception and the actual condition of the aircraft. Fennell warned that new technologies, intended to help pilots, can actually “distance us from the situation” if human factors are not properly considered.

“The changes that we’ve seen in the cockpit are astounding,” said Dr. Steve Casner, also from the NASA Ames Research Center, referring to the difference in manual handling skills of today’s pilots versus those from 30 years ago. He noted the differences in training and experience between the populations, adding that current pilots’ dependence on available technologies can sometimes result in atrophied flying skills. Casner asked the question, “How do we address these [concerns] in initial and recurrent training?”

Nadine Bienefeld, a researcher from the ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, explored the idea of determining criteria for and evaluating positive behavioral skills as part of flight training. She observed that flight instructors need to also be behavioral evaluators and that crews should be “briefed on their CRM [crew resource management] behavior.”

Panelists stressed the importance of including human-factors considerations at the beginning of any procedural or equipment enhancement to ensure that new technologies optimize human performance and do not inundate or confuse the cockpit crew.—John Perkinson, Staff Writer

Preparing for the Unthinkable

If the unthinkable happens, are you prepared? This was just one of the questions posed to hundreds of ALPA safety, security, and pilot assistance volunteers who descended on Washington, D.C., for workshop training classes before the 57th Annual ALPA Air Safety Forum. It’s one that gained a lot of attention as pilots relived the tragic events of 9/11 and discussed the effects they had on the airline industry and the airline piloting profession.

In one session, Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP) volunteers took part in a mock drill to test their preparedness for responding to a terrorist threat, accident, or serious incident. The goal was to leave the session better prepared and ready to handle any type of event that may occur. No one plan fits every airline, so it’s important to develop a customized CIRP response that fits the needs of each pilot group.

As part of the drill, participants were provided with fictitious details of a Level 4 security event and worked together to develop a plan that needed to be accomplished within the first hour after an event. The situation continued to evolve as it would in the “real world,” and “new” information was reported to the group as they worked. During that time, they were also tasked with developing a checklist for the first 24 hours after the event. Gathering information, assessing the union’s resources, prioritizing where the assets should be distributed, and communicating with union leaders, the pilot group, and management were top priorities.

The bottom line: Be prepared. ALPA’s CIRP is a valuable, well-respected resource that has been used by other groups within the airline industry. The keys to its success are preplanning, rehearsing a planned response to an event, and sharing information with other ALPA CIRP volunteers.—Lydia Jakub, ALPA Communications Specialist

Canadian Pilots Spearhead Revolutionary Assistance Program

What began as two pilots simply helping their fellow aviators adhere to strict company standards sparked a revolutionary new program that is now called Pilot Assistance.

During a hiring boom in Canada in the early 1970s, two senior Air Canada pilots began to mentor those pilots who were new to the profession and those who may have needed a peer to speak with. Air Canada employed strict performance and behavioral standards, and the pilots knew that any deviation from those standards would be met with termination. Many of the issues, the pilots believed, could be handled informally by peers. The key was to alert pilots to their behaviors and recommend corrective action before the company noticed any deviation in performance.

The two pilot assistants operated in this manner for two years before being approached by a chief pilot who was interested in referring pilots to the program. The chief pilot recognized the effectiveness of the program and understood that it would become a formal process if management were to attempt to correct the behaviors. The pilot assistants’ caseload soon began to grow as word of their work spread, and they sought assistance from their union and appointed an advisor to spearhead the program’s efforts.

The Canadian model for pilot assistance focuses on protecting the overall health and well-being of the pilots. It’s a peer-based program in which line pilot volunteers work with line pilots, and management volunteers with management pilots, to avoid any potential conflicts. These volunteers have limited authority and serve primarily as mentors. Their program was so successful that it was adopted Canada-wide.

Pilot assistants are generalists who provide pilots with referrals to experts; they are not experts in specific areas such as grief, addiction, or trauma. Rather, they assist pilots with relational, behavioral, and performance issues by providing them with support and encouragement while the pilots solve their own problems. All calls are confidential.

When the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association (CALPA) and ALPA merged in 1997, CALPA had a mature Pilot Assistance program that was integrated into ALPA’s program while maintaining its separate identity in helping Canadian pilots. It continues as a separate group (Canadian Pilot Assistance) under the authority of ALPA’s Pilot Assistance chairman.—Lydia Jakub, ALPA Communications Specialist

How the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Shook Pilots’ Lives

Members from ALPA’s Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP) and several international partners discussed the performance of the Association’s CIRP, and the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) approach that others employed, to help flight crews affected by the earthquake/tsunami that hit northern Japan on March 11.

The event set in motion an elaborate support network in which both programs were used to help mitigate the psychological effects that pilots and their families were suffering.

One of the five most powerful earthquakes ever to be recorded—packing a 9.0 magnitude punch—occurred in the western Pacific Ocean on March 11. In addition to initial damages, the earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that slammed Japan’s northern islands, killing and injuring thousands. The tidal surge flooded the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant where three reactors were damaged, releasing large amounts of radioactive material into the air.

Moderated by F/O Louise Cullinan (Mesa), ALPA’s CIRP chair, the panel featured Capts. John McFadden (United) and Bill Cheney (Continental), CIRP chairmen for their respective pilot groups; F/O Christoph Thurn (Lufthansa), CISM chair for the Lufthansa chapter of Vereinigung Cockpit; Gerhard Fahnenbruck, clinical director of the Stiftung Mayday Foundation; and Keiko Nakahama from Aviation CISM in Japan.

“A critical incident can cause so much stress that normal coping mechanisms of a human being can fail,” said Fahnenbruck, explaining the need for intervention following disasters.

“We should not forget that a sense of loneliness makes it easier to develop psychological difficulties,” added Nakahama, describing the feeling of isolation that sometimes follows catastrophic experiences.

Cheney indicated that in performing his CIRP duties to respond to the catastrophe, he contacted 64 Continental pilots, met 16 pilots at the gate as they returned home, conducted follow-ups with 22 pilots, and conducted repeat follow-ups with 6 of the pilots.

By contrast, Thurl said Lufthansa’s CISM program addressed 280 Lufthansa pilots and flight attendants. Of this group, 50 demonstrated stress symptoms, 3 to 5 were diagnosed as psychologically unwell and are recovering, and that 1 to 2 will leave likely the company as a result of the event.

“The only way we get better is by practicing,” said McFadden, talking about the importance of conducting mock drills of crises to test and improve CIRP.

Most agreed that text messaging or SMS (short message service) was the most reliable source of communications. In the days that followed March 11, internet and voice communications were spotty and not as dependable.—John Perkinson, Staff Writer

Congressional Staffers, Pilot Lobbyists Tell All

ALPA pilot representatives and congressional staff members explored the role of Congress in providing regulatory guidance during a panel discussion titled “Safety and Security—The Role of Congress and Legislation.”

Contributing to the discussion were Capt. Dino Atsalis (Delta), his pilot group’s Master Executive Council Government Affairs Committee chairman; Rich Swayze, staff for the Senate Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee; Capt. Fred Eissler (FedEx Express), ALPA Legislative Affairs Committee chairman for his pilot group; and Marisela Salayandia, staff for the House Subcommittee on Transportation Security. Michael Robbins, ALPA’s director of Government Affairs, moderated the group, which also examined how ALPA works with government officials and congressional staff to influence legislative and regulatory action.

Eissler: To convince lawmakers to support a policy, he and his fellow ALPA legislative affairs pilot volunteers must clearly define the problem and, most importantly, show why it’s in the decision-makers’ best interest to act in this manner. “We have to have a righteous argument,” he said, implying that his priorities can be neither Republican nor Democratic—they must focus solely on safety and security.

Atsalis: “We have skin in the game.” Pilots speak with authority and provide a unique level of credibility on aviation-related concerns. He observed that wearing the pilot uniform when speaking with elected government representatives and staff helps to generate attention. However, Atsalis said that legislative affairs work requires patience, adding that “the government tends to work at a slower pace than we work in the cockpit.”

Swayze noted that the subcommittee he supports pays close attention to the work of the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration, and the NTSB, and that two things that can help move an aviation bill forward are pilot support and statistical data.

Salayandia agreed: Meeting with pilots helps her better understand the operational effects of Congress’s decisions. She said that she and her fellow staffers particular appreciate coalition-building efforts to help steer congressional positions. “The more we can encourage everyone to get engaged, the better.”

The panelists talked about how events like the Colgan Flight 3407 accident have raised safety and security concerns in the public eye in recent years, compelling Congress to work more closely with regulators.—John Perkinson, Staff Writer

Honoring ALPA Pilots—A Snapshot

Superior Airmanship Awards

AirTran Airways pilots Capt. Richard Stalnaker and F/O Mendel Bell received the ALPA Superior Airmanship Award for safely landing their B-717 on Aug. 5, 2010, after suffering a critical fuel system failure—and a lateral fuel imbalance of more than 9,000 pounds, six times the flight manual limit.

During their climb after departing Orlando, the crew noted that fuel was moving rapidly—and inexplicably—from the right to the left wing tank, despite the pilots’ best efforts to troubleshoot the problem. Returning to Orlando, the pilots expertly coped with the dual challenge of reduced controllability of the aircraft and having to land at an abnormally high speed to improve flight control.

The fuel imbalance was found to be the result of a break in the main fuel manifold in the left wing root.

Stalnaker said, “We are honored to be the first—and last—AirTran pilots to receive this award.” He thanked his family “for their patience and support during my airline career,” his entire crew “for their calm response to this emergency,” and the AirTran training and safety department for the excellent training he has received.

Alaska Airlines Capt. Steve Cleary and F/O Michael Hendrix received the ALPA Superior Airmanship Award for their superb handling of a bird strike and engine failure during takeoff at Sitka, Alaska on Aug. 8, 2010.

Their B-737-400 was full and weighed 132,000 pounds for takeoff from Sitka’s wet, challenging runway, which is surrounded on most sides by the frigid Gulf of Alaska. At 130 knots, an eagle struck the left engine, which exploded and burst into flames.

The airplane lurched left. Quickly and calmly, Cleary called out, “Abort! My aircraft!” and swiftly started emergency procedures to reject the takeoff and maintain control of the yawing B-737. As Cleary overrode the autobrakes with maximum manual braking, Hendrix kept him apprised of the aircraft’s speed and runway distance remaining. The heavy airliner stopped at runway’s end, just before the sea.

“What an honor to receive from our fellow pilots,” said Cleary. He thanked his family and Alaska Airlines for their support after the harrowing event, and noted that the first telephone call he received after the rejected takeoff “was from ALPA safety.”

“I want to thank every check airman who made me go back and do over everything I ever did wrong in the sim. Michael and our flight attendants made me look good. Hopefully Michael and I will never be back here,” he said.

Pilot Assistance Award

For her exceptional leadership in supporting airline pilots who experience serious psychological trauma, the union recognized F/O Madeline “Mimi” Tompkins (Hawaiian) with the 2010 ALPA Pilot Assistance Award.

On Aloha Airlines Flight 243 on April 28, 1988, a 20-foot section of the B-737’s upper fuselage blew away in an explosive decompression at FL240. Capt. Robert Schornstheimer and Tompkins safely landed the severely crippled airliner despite significant structural damage. One flight attendant died, and all 89 passengers were injured.

After that tragedy, Tompkins became involved with ALPA’s Air Safety Committee and participated on a special task force to develop a critical incident response program. Beginning in 1994, she coordinated and led the union’s efforts, and ALPA’s Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP) was formally established in 1996. From then until 2001, Tompkins chaired ALPA’s national CIRP Committee, coordinating critical incident stress management (CISM) responses to major accidents and incidents involving ALPA pilot groups.

Today, Tompkins remains very active in pilot assistance, traveling around the world to share her expertise with others.

In nominating Tompkins for the award, Capt. Chris Elley, the Hawaiian pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman, said, “Her efforts over the past two decades have had such a positive effect on the emotional and mental health of traumatized pilots that many pilots have said that they owe their continued careers, and even their lives, to Mimi because of the CIRP organization she helped to create and lead.”

Tompkins confided, “I never imagined at the beginning that the program would become global. Now every major U.S. airline has a CISM [program], and other airlines and pilot associations around the world, in Germany, Japan, and Hong Kong, have them, too.”

Aviation Security Award

Capt. Bob Hesselbein (Delta) received the 2010 ALPA Aviation Security Award, the Association’s highest aviation security honor, for his exemplary efforts to advance aviation security.

“Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. has made significant progress in enhancing aviation security,” Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, noted. “Capt. Hesselbein has played a key role in galvanizing congressional, industry, and regulatory support for a wide range of important aviation security initiatives.”

In 1986, Hesselbein joined ALPA as a Northwest Airlines pilot. He became chairman of his pilot group’s Security Committee and created a team that prioritized security issues and emphasized strong liaison with airline security partners and law enforcement.

In 2005, Hesselbein was selected to lead ALPA’s newly restructured National Security Committee (NSC). During his tenure, the Association’s annual security training seminar became a leading international aviation security event.

Among his achievements, Hesselbein designed a comprehensive crewmember checklist for pilots and cabin crewmembers to use to identify and address chemical and biological weapons.

As NSC chairman, Hesselbein also began an initiative, threatened airspace management (TAM), to modify ATC procedures used during security-related events involving airborne aircraft. He held meetings with numerous government and industry personnel on this topic and raised awareness among stakeholders.

During four years as chairman, Hesselbein strengthened ties to government agencies. His attention to communications was an important catalyst for aviation security improvements. He championed use of a range of communications vehicles—from ALPA member publications to the news media—to advocate for awareness and security enhancements.

“Over his long career, Capt. Hesselbein has served as a powerful advocate for effective and efficient aviation security initiatives,” Moak concluded.

Hesselbein responded, “I’m deeply honored and humbled. In my heart, you are the heroes. … Pilots possess important security expertise that cannot be ignored. ALPA volunteers have reached across borders and oceans to do aviation security work.

“The need for robust aviation security will outlast my participation. I ask you to continue to do the good work.”

Air Safety Award

Capt. Pete Frey (Delta) received the 2010 ALPA Air Safety Award, the Association’s highest safety honor, for his outstanding commitment to advancing airline safety.

“For decades, ALPA pilots have been able to count on Capt. Frey’s formidable strengths as a mentor to his fellow safety volunteers and as a skilled and engaging instructor for ALPA’s accident investigation courses,” Moak explained.

A long-time member of ALPA’s Accident Investigation Board, Frey has been a driving force in accident and incident investigations for many years. He has served as the course director of ALPA’s accident investigation courses and coauthored and contributed to many of ALPA’s published accident analyses.

Frey also serves as the chief accident investigator and accident analysis chair for the Delta pilots’ Central Air Safety Committee, a position he has held for more than a decade. He also has served as the Delta pilots’ safety chair at their New York base and as a member of the Delta pilots’ accident/incident hotline team.

Highly influential in establishing and implementing the ASAP and FOQA programs at Delta, Frey has nurtured a high level of trust with Delta’s Flight Safety Office that has resulted in the pilots’ Central Air Safety Committee being swiftly notified of incidents and accidents.

Frey recalled the February 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 accident: “I got a phone call late at night from ALPA’s Engineering and Air Safety Department. I was told that Colgan had had an accident and that the Colgan pilots had just joined ALPA and hadn’t had a chance to get any of their pilots trained in accident investigation yet. I was asked to go to Buffalo and lead the ALPA involvement in the onsite accident investigation.

“I said I would, but I thought that when I got to Buffalo I’d be doing it alone. When I got off the plane in Buffalo, pilots were there from Piedmont, Continental, Delta, Pinnacle, and Colgan. We were able to populate every single technical group on the NTSB investigation. I am very proud to be part of this organization that can react like that. Thank you all.”—Jan W. Steenblik, Technical Editor

For more coverage, photos, video, click here.

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9/11/2001: The Longest Flight of My Life

By Capt. Timothy I. Meldahl (Delta)

I was tired. My crew and I had been scheduled to fly Northwest Flight 28, a B-747-200 from Tokyo to San Francisco, but we were delayed two-and-a-half hours by the remnants of a typhoon that had struck a day earlier. When we finally lifted off at 6:02 p.m., local time, we fully expected the remainder of our “transpac” to be routine. It occurred to us shortly after leveloff that Northwest Flight 28 of Sept. 11, 2001, would be anything but.

It began with queries from crews in the vicinity, monitoring VHF frequency 123.45. “Is anyone getting the same information that we are over our company frequency?” a pilot asked. Another crewman responded, “Yes. It appears that one or two light aircraft have struck the World Trade Center.” A third pilot added, “They were not light aircraft. They were airliners, and there were four of them!”

Minutes passed as more crews added pieces to the puzzle. In a coordinated attack, four airliners had been hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Tremendous damage was being reported, and the crisis brewing on the East Coast of the United States was beyond our comprehension.

We needed to act. I directed F/O C.A. Mansfield to “pull the power back on all four engines.” I believed that by reducing power I could conserve fuel and possibly gain some time. I continued, “I may be distracted as the night progresses, so you will be flying and navigating. I will verify any important changes that occur, but, for now, you have the aircraft.”

I then turned to S/O Zack Bergazin and said, “Our fuel score will prove very important tonight, so I will work with you to manage our fuel and monitor aircraft systems.” My first and second officers were competent professional aviators, and I was glad they were there.

At this point, I called Pam, the purser, to the flight deck. Listening to my explanation of the developments, she shook her head in disbelief. We talked further and, at Pam’s suggestion, I decided not to say anything to the passengers beyond normal flight announcements. She then returned to the cabin.

A few moments later, I addressed the entire cabin crew. I did my best to explain what had occurred and instructed them to stay calm, be professional, and remain alert. Moments later, a message came across our intercompany communications. “Go to High Alert,” it screamed. The three of us knew what high alert meant from our military experience, but none of us had ever seen a message like this while flying for an airline. The obvious question was, Is there something we are not being told about our particular circumstances?

As we searched our manuals for some interpretation of this alarming message, Pam called from the cabin. “Tim, I think we have a problem with one of the passengers. He is holding a briefcase very tightly and appears quite confused. He may be a threat. What would you like us to do?”

“Watch him closely and report any changes,” I said. Jeez! What next?

It was time for the flight crew to review how best to protect the cockpit. All we had were the two crash axes. “Zack,” I said, “for better or worse, you are the first line of defense. If someone succeeds in opening the cockpit door, you’ll need to swing with all your might until they are no longer a threat. C.A., you have the second axe, so you are next. Swing and swing hard. If they get to me, I will do all I can to prevent them from getting control of our aircraft.”

As I looked into the determined eyes of both men, I realized none of this had to be said. We were as ready as we would ever be. It was time to check in with Oakland Center.

“Oakland Center, Northwest 28 checking in at FL370.”

“Roger, Northwest 28, squawk 3456.” It was good to hear from someone on the ground. “Northwest 28, radar contact. You are cleared direct to the SFO VOR. Are you declaring an emergency?”

“Negative,” I answered.

“Northwest 28, are you declaring an emergency?” Center asked again, this time with an increased sense of urgency.

What the hell is going on? I thought. Again I responded, “Negative. Northwest 28 is not declaring an emergency.” The next words from Center were chilling.

“If you do not declare an emergency, you will not be permitted to land on American soil.” The flight deck became very quiet as we absorbed what had just been said—If we did not declare an emergency, we would not be permitted to land in the U.S.

Zack responded first. “There is a good chance we have been intercepted by fighters and they are on our tail right now. My guess is that the powers that be are watching us very closely, and they are not kidding around.”

C.A. added, “We are on a very tight leash out here and one wrong turn, one missed altitude, or one call that does not make perfect sense, and I truly believe they will shoot us down.”

Just then a chime went off, shaking me from my thoughts. “Tim, this is Pam. We are watching that passenger closely, the lights are up and the cabin is ready for landing.”

“Thanks, Pam,” was all I could say.

It was time to respond to Center. Not knowing how my words would be interpreted by fighter aircraft that might be in trail nor fully comprehending why I was being forced to declare an emergency, I slowly picked up the mike.

“Oakland Center, this is Northwest 28.”

“Go ahead, Northwest 28,” Center responded.

“Northwest 28 is declaring an emergency.” The night kept getting longer and longer.

“Roger, Northwest 28. Direct to the SFO VOR, descend and maintain FL210.”

In the descent I turned to C.A. and said, “This is where you nail every heading and every altitude.”

“Absolutely,” he responded. I realized that I had been awake for more than 36 hours and suddenly felt very tired. I took a last sip from a cold cup of coffee, sat up in my seat, and forced myself to focus on the tasks at hand.

C.A. was doing a magnificent job flying. On short final, he commanded, “Flaps 25, landing checklist.” The airplane rumbled as the flaps slid noisily into place. Checklists completed, it was time to land. With a slight rotation of the nose, the main wheels of the B-747 touched down smoothly, and C.A. pulled all four reversers back to assist the brakes in stopping.

“Eighty knots—I’ve got the aircraft,” I said as we slowed to taxi speed. It was 11:37 a.m. PDT. At this moment it occurred to me that, in spite of the fact that a little more than nine hours had passed since we departed Tokyo, I had, indeed, just completed the longest flight of my life.

As I taxied to the gate, I noticed that not a single plane, truck, or car was moving. There were no sounds on the radio. Unbelievable, I thought. I turned into the gate, set the brakes, and shut down the engines. When we finished our post-flight checklists, I thanked C.A. and Zack for their superb work and headed for the cabin. The airplane was empty now, and I thanked Pam for her extraordinary efforts and all of the flight attendants for their work that day. They had truly made a difference.

The bus ride to the hotel seemed surreal, the world much different from just 11 hours before. When I arrived at my hotel room, I turned on the TV to witness for myself the destruction caused by the hijackers. I could not believe my eyes. Such devastation, such sadness. I sat down on the side of my bed, put my head in my hands, and, when the full gravity of the situation finally took hold, I felt the tears start to come.

To read the full-length version of Capt. Meldahl’s article, click here.

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Known Crewmember Launches at Chicago O’Hare

ALPA Pilots Virtually Breeze Through Airport Security
By John Perkinson, Staff Writer

Capt. Denny Flanagan (United) walked up to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener at Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal One and showed her the appropriate identification. She quickly confirmed Flanagan’s identity and employment status, and off he went to catch his flight. It was that simple.

Flanagan was one of dozens of pilots who, for the first time, used a Known Crewmember access point at one of O’Hare’s three terminals on August 9 to get to work. The Known Crewmember Program (KCM), jointly sponsored by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l and the Air Transport Association (ATA), leverages current technology to provide an effective and efficient way to enhance aviation security. TSA officials use laptop computers at appointed KCM posts to positively verify airline pilots’ identities and employment status.

For pilots from participating airlines, it means no longer having to stand in long security lines, removing shoes and belts, undergoing body-scan imaging, walking through metal detectors, having bags searched, and submitting to periodic pat-downs.

Capt. Sean Cassidy, ALPA’s first vice president, was in Chicago on August 9 to personally test Known Crewmember and to survey other pilots using the screening system.

“It was a very pleasurable experience,” he told a Chicago Tribune reporter. “I didn’t have to disrobe,” he joked. But on a more serious note, Cassidy acknowledged, “The process helps the TSA redefine its focus on finding potential threats among passengers.”

Coming to an airport near you

On August 23, four KCM access points opened at Miami International Airport. As the test program expands, checkpoints at Boston Logan, Washington Dulles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix Sky Harbor, and Seattle-Tacoma will open.

“Since 2007, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l has led a national effort, engaging with the Air Transport Association, the Transportation Security Administration, and the airlines, to make alternative security screening for pilots a reality,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president. “Known Crewmember recognizes the extensive background checks pilots receive as part of their employment and, importantly, airline pilots’ critical role and responsibility in securing their aircraft each and every time they fly.”

ALPA and the ATA hope to eventually make the program available to all U.S. airline pilots, and both have asked the TSA to include flight attendants in the future.

Getting started

ALPA and the ATA met in late March 2011 with TSA Administrator John Pistole to secure TSA approval to install and test Known Crewmember at as many as seven U.S. hub airports.

“Deploying an enhanced screening program for pilots in uniform that allows the TSA to verify their employment and identity is a step in the right direction as TSA continues to explore more risk-based, intelligence-driven security systems,” said Pistole. “We want to focus our limited resources on passenger screening, while speeding and enhancing the checkpoint experience for everyone.”

In June 2008, the TSA approved the first version of an alternate screening method called the Crew Personnel Advanced Screening System (CrewPASS), which was tested successfully at three East Coast airports—Baltimore/Washington International, Pittsburgh International, and Columbia (S.C.) Metropolitan.

At ALPA’s 2010 Board of Directors (BOD) meeting, delegates renewed their support for achieving alternative security screening of pilots, and the Known Crewmember program was begun to fulfill that BOD priority.


Airlines Participating in the Initial Phase of Known Crewmember Tests*

American Eagle
US Airways
* Additional airlines are currently being added.


KCM’s 3 Easy Steps

ONE While in uniform, present a TSA screener at a Known Crewmember (KCM) checkpoint with both your company ID and a TSA-accepted form of photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license.

TWO The screener matches the IDs to your appearance and confirms your identity and current employment status by accessing the KCM system via a TSA laptop computer.

THREE With approval, proceed to the sterile area, normally with no other screening required.*

*Keep in mind that the TSA will periodically conduct random physical screenings.



Q Will my carry-on items be inspected when I proceed through a Known Crewmember (KCM) access point?

A No, unless you are selected for random, passenger-style screening, in which case both you and your carry-on items will be screened via traditional checkpoint-screening protocols.

Q Am I permitted to escort someone with me through a KCM access point?

A No. Every person who attempts to enter the sterile area of an airport via a KCM access point must be cleared individually by a screening officer.

Q If I am a federal flight deck officer (FFDO), does KCM change how I access an airport sterile area?

A No. Procedures for FFDOs are not changed by KCM. Continue to follow your SOPs.

Q Does KCM change other TSA regulations regarding when and what types of items I may carry aboard an aircraft?

A No. You are subject to all existing uniformed crewmember regulations regarding the types of items that may be carried aboard an aircraft. KCM does not provide any other exemptions or privileges regarding the items that you carry, other than those already mentioned in TSA regulations.

For more KCM information and ongoing updates about the program, click here.

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Chronicling ALPA’s Strategic Plan—
Protecting ALPA and Its Pilots: BOD Delegate Committee 6

By John Perkinson, Staff Writer

The following article is the sixth of an eight-part series that chronicles the strategic plan of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, set in motion at the union’s 42nd Board of Directors meeting in October 2008. It details how ALPA is using this plan to set priorities, achieve goals, and advance the airline piloting profession. Air Line Pilot will examine how specific recommendations of the Board’s eight delegate committees are making a difference in the lives of ALPA pilots.

During both the 2008 and 2010 Board of Directors (BOD) meetings, Delegate Committee 6 focused on ALPA’s merger policy and career security policy—cornerstones of the Association’s approach to protecting member pilots’ careers.

The 2010 Committee also examined ALPA’s ongoing risk management structure to assess its resilience and effectiveness. At both meetings, Committee 6 members, after discussion with subject-matter experts, made suggestions for improving the implementation of current ALPA policies and for proposed changes to those policies.

Merger policy and career security

The 2008 BOD meeting convened while ALPA’s Merger Policy Review Committee (MPRC) was considering proposed revisions to Association merger policy, providing Committee 6 an opportunity to offer important feedback as the MPRC’s work continued. Capt. Mike Arcamuzi (FedEx Express), MPRC chairman, gave a detailed report, emphasizing the priority placed on gathering information from pilot leaders and others with merger experience, the importance of studying ALPA’s past experience with mergers and merger policy, and the new concepts the Committee was considering to create a more effective approach.

The MPRC’s work—including its discussions with Delegate Committee 6 members—led to developing a new merger policy that ALPA’s Executive Board approved in May 2009.

The policy places greater emphasis on addressing all aspects of uniting the affected pilot groups. It also gives the affected pilots greater flexibility to agree on processes that suit their particular circumstances. Highlights include securing value from a merger transaction by promptly negotiating a joint collective bargaining agreement and educating pilots about the merger process with the goal of unifying the merging pilot groups. Since then, the Pinnacle, Mesaba, and Colgan pilots have demonstrated how working together—using this new strategy—can help the pilots involved achieve their contract goals.

At the 2008 BOD meeting, Committee 6 delegates also heard from the recently established Career Security Protocol Committee (CSPC), which discussed and assessed multiple proposals, including the feasibility of a national seniority list and cross-industry/cross-border implications. At the 2010 BOD meeting, the CSPC presented its findings to Delegate Committee 6.

While neither the CSPC nor Committee 6 reached consensus on pursuing a national seniority list, other recommendations for improving career security are being pursued.

Protecting ALPA—risk management

The 2010 BOD members directed Delegate Committee 6 to conduct its own review of the union’s risk management structure.

Jonathan Cohen, director of ALPA’s Legal Department, and Bob Savelson, a partner at Cohen, Weiss, and Simon, ALPA’s outside legal counsel, briefed the delegates on the overall structure and new policy that the Executive Board had recently adopted. Capt. Bill Couette, ALPA’s executive vice president–administration/secretary, also addressed the Committee about the CSPC and how the new merger policy was working. Capt. Al Gallo (North American), Delegate Committee 6 chairman, reported to the BOD that ALPA “reviewed the duty of fair representation and recent lawsuits that led to developing a risk management framework and subsequent changes to ALPA’s Administrative Manual, and explained that framework.”

The delegates discussed risk management in the context of Kitty Hawk (ALPA’s insurance subsidiary), litigation, pilot group governance structure, union finances, the roles and responsibilities of ALPA fiduciaries, and oversight education.

In its report to the BOD, Committee 6 acknowledged the value of the risk management framework, noting that “expansion and refinement are necessary to continue to preserve the viability of the Association. This includes a strong emphasis on the training and education of our members, pilot representatives, and [master executive councils] regarding their roles and responsibilities, and the purpose and application of the Association’s risk management policies and procedures.”

As the 2010 BOD resolution noted, “Unity, clarity, and consistent adherence to the needs and goals of our membership remain keys to succeeding in today’s environment.” Through its work, Committee 6 helped to develop two critical components of ALPA’s framework and to create a strategic plan that supports the union’s mission of being the ultimate guardian and defender of the safety, rights, and privileges of airline pilots.

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From the Hill

FAA Funding Lapse Gets Six-Week Patch
By John Perkinson, Staff Writer

Following a two-week partial shutdown of the FAA, a halt to airport improvement projects, and the furlough of tens of thousands of workers, Congress on August 5 approved the 21st short-term FAA funding extension since October 2007. The House and Senate have until September 16 to reach a deal to fully finance the FAA and its proposed Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), or pass yet another extension and further delay improvements for a stretched and aging aviation infrastructure.

“We are encouraged by the recent FAA funding extension but must impress upon Congress the profound need to act quickly to fully fund the agency and its NextGen projects,” said Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l. “The government has been punting its responsibilities on this matter for four years. We must look to the future of air transportation and not just its short-term needs.”

Earlier this year, Moak testified before the House’s Aviation Subcommittee, saying, “The current U.S. ATC infrastructure is outdated and must be modernized, the equipment’s capabilities are limited, and efficiency is decreasing. Delays and other problems that currently plague the ATC system underscore the critical need for ongoing national airspace system modernization.”

The recent FAA shutdown resulted, in part, from a debate between the House and Senate over essential air service funding for rural airports. The new extension cuts $16 million in funding for rural airports located less than 90 miles from a medium or large airport hub. Numerous other provisions differ in the House and Senate versions of the FAA reauthorization, including a provision related to the current National Mediation Board (NMB) rule that governs how airline workers are able to organize. The House version of the bill unsuccessfully attempted to revert to the previous NMB vote counting practice, which required all uncast ballots to be counted as votes against representation.

During the two-week period when funding ceased, airline tickets were not taxed and the federal government lost nearly $30 million a day. The new six-week extension allows the FAA to resume collecting taxes on airline tickets, the return to work of tens of thousands of furloughed workers, and the resumption of important airport projects. However, this could all change if a deal isn’t reached by September 16.

Congress passed the FAA funding extension before recessing for its summer break. When Congress reconvenes the first week of September, lawmakers will have just 10 days to act. Recognizing this brief period to settle existing differences, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wrote to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on August 9, asking him to appoint a formal negotiating panel “so that serious negotiations may begin.” The House and Senate will need to act quickly if they are to reach an agreement in time. The clock is ticking.


In the Administrator’s Words

“We have a tremendous responsibility to enhance the safety of our airspace system and transform it from the radar-based system of the last century to the satellite-based system of tomorrow,” Randy Babbitt, FAA administrator and former ALPA president, told a Senate subcommittee on May 24. “To accomplish our goals, the FAA needs a multi-year reauthorization with sufficient funding levels.”—JWP


Why NextGen? Why Now?

The FAA describes NextGen as “an umbrella term for the ongoing transformation of the national airspace system (NAS). At its most basic level, NextGen represents an evolution from a ground-based system of air traffic control to a satellite-based system of air traffic management. This evolution is vital to meeting future demand, and to avoiding gridlock in the sky and at our nation’s airports.”

Properly funding NextGen will allow for continued growth and increased safety of the NAS while reducing aviation’s environmental impact. NextGen projects include developing aviation-specific applications for widely used technologies, such as the Global Positioning System and advancements to weather forecasting, data networking, and digital communications. New airport infrastructure and new procedural improvements are also needed, including shifting more decision-making responsibilities from the ground to the cockpit.

NextGen will enable aircraft to safely fly closer together on more direct routes, reducing delays. New technologies will reduce carbon emissions, fuel consumption, and noise.—JWP

ALPA TO CONGRESS: EU Carbon Tax Threatens U.S. Airlines, Jobs

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l conveyed to members of Congress in late July the union’s staunch opposition to the European Union’s (EU) emissions trading scheme (ETS), citing the advancements that aviation has made in reducing emissions, the severe economic burden that would be placed on U.S. airlines, and questions about the legality of unilaterally imposing the scheme.

“The aviation industry takes seriously its environmental responsibility, and we have aggressively led efforts to cut carbon emissions by developing more fuel-efficient engines, using lighter-weight materials, creating biofuels, and capitalizing on satellite technology to route flights more directly and use less fuel,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president, after his testimony before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee’s July 27 hearing, “The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme: A Violation of International Law.”

Capt. Kathi Hurst (United), ALPA’s chairman for energy and environment, accompanied Moak to the hearing as the Association’s subject-matter expert on aviation environmental issues and emissions trading.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the EU ETS seeks to cap the annual carbon emissions for each airline and allocate an emissions allowance to each. Airlines would be required to surrender one allowance for every ton of CO2 emitted on a flight to or from an EU member country. If an airline were to exceed its number of allowances, the scheme would impose a heavy financial penalty by forcing the airline to buy more.

The financial penalties exacted under the EU’s scheme would mean billions of dollars in additional cost for U.S. airlines over the next several years. Moreover, the penalty would constitute a foreign tax on U.S. airlines that could be funneled to other countries’ treasuries with no certainty that funds would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Moak made clear that commercial aviation is an economic engine that generates $1.3 trillion per year and employs 11 million people, and that the U.S. airline industry is already severely overtaxed. The taxes on airline tickets, which are imposed at rates similar to those levied against tobacco and alcohol, currently total more than $17 billion per year.

“A $300 domestic airline ticket currently includes $63 in taxes—20 percent of the total ticket price,” Moak pointed out. “By piling on a foreign tax that will drive up ticket prices to the benefit of other countries, the EU emissions trading scheme threatens the economic health of the U.S. airlines, risking U.S. jobs at a time when every job counts.”

ALPA also maintains that the EU’s action to unilaterally impose the policy is at odds with customary international law and protocols and could conflict or become redundant with schemes in other countries.

“Airline pilots help cut carbon emissions every day and on every flight by operating their aircraft in ways that save fuel while ensuring safety,” Moak continued, citing as examples single-engine taxi, technology-enhanced departure and arrival procedures (i.e., RNAV SIDs and STARs), flying at optimal altitudes and speeds, and continuous descent arrival procedures.

“At a time when so much is already being done in the aviation industry to reduce emissions, this EU emissions trading scheme is bad for U.S. airlines and threatens the jobs of hard-working Americans,” Moak concluded. “Congress must join the administration in what must be a determined effort to exempt U.S. airlines from this disastrous policy.”

To read Moak’s complete testimony, click here.—Jan W. Steenblik, Technical Editor


Canadian Airlines Fight EU Emissions Schemes

Canadian airlines have joined the fight to oppose the European Union’s plan to slap a carbon tax on airlines at the beginning of next year as part of the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), which represents the country’s largest airlines, including Air Canada and Air Transat, has lent its support to a legal challenge brought against the plan by the Air Transport Association, which represents 16 U.S. airlines plus two foreign affiliates. The NACC and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have gained formal intervenor status in the case and contributed to a joint submission made to the EU’s high court in Luxembourg, which is hearing the case.

Like ALPA, the three airline associations argue that including airlines in the ETS would violate fundamental principles of several international treaties, including the Chicago Convention, the EU-U.S. Open Skies Agreement, the Canada-EU Air Transport Agree-ment, and the Kyoto Protocol and cost airlines billions of dollars.

George Petsikas, NACC president, said, “Our view is that there are other ways to achieve these goals [of reducing airline greenhouse gas emissions] without whacking the industry, and our customers especially. Nobody is going to be able to absorb this. It is all going to translate into higher costs for our customers.”—JWS

ALPA Fights Efforts to Tax Health Care

Amid ongoing debate on Capitol Hill about how to reduce the national debt and rein in government spending, no options appear to be off the table. Among the many potential revenue sources, Congress has been discussing taxing employer-provided health-care benefits for some time. Under current law, an employee’s taxable income does not include the value of employer-provided health coverage, but this could change.

“The issue of taxing health-care benefits is a serious threat to employer-provided health care, and we will not sit back and watch as our collectively bargained benefits are chipped away,” said Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l. “ALPA has been heavily vested in this issue since 2009, and has worked with other labor and consumer groups to urge Congress to look elsewhere for sources of new funds. This kind of tax will unduly burden our members, and we must continue to draw attention to this issue to ensure that everyone is aware of the possible implications.”

During the recent health insurance reform deliberations in Congress, the concept of taxing all employer-provided health-care benefits was heavily debated but ultimately defeated, due in part to pushback from ALPA and many other groups and economists opposed to this proposal.

The House and Senate instead reached a compromise that resulted in an excise tax, beginning in 2018, on “Cadillac” health plans, deemed such because of their above-average premiums.

Today, however, Congress is looking for additional ways to cut the budget deficit through spending cuts and revenue raisers, and the taxation of employer-provided health benefits will likely be debated again. The recent congressionally chartered “Super Committee” will be meeting this fall with a mandate to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion by 2021. The Super Committee may look to another deficit-reduction proposal known as the Simpson-Bowles plan, which recommends including health-care benefits in taxable income by phasing out the existing tax exclusion gradually, beginning as soon as 2014 and eliminating it entirely by 2038.

ALPA’s Retirement & Insurance Department has calculated that if this proposal becomes law, by 2018 as many as 80 percent or more of pilots could be paying taxes on a major portion of their employer-provided health coverage.

Many economists believe that treating the value of health-care benefits as taxable income will generate higher out-of-pocket costs and encourage employers to drop coverage, ultimately resulting in fewer individuals with health-care coverage.

ALPA’s Government Affairs Department and pilot representatives continue to meet with elected representatives in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness about this critical issue. And as the Super Committee gears up to tackle the deficit, ALPA will continue to aggressively work against the taxation of health-care benefits.—John Perkinson, Staff Writer


3 Reasons Why Employee Health-Care Benefits Should Not Be Taxed

1 The tax exclusion for employer-provided health-care benefits was an important factor in creating the current system of employment-based coverage.

2 Limiting the exclusion would lead many employers to drop coverage for their employees.

3 Limiting the exclusion would lead to higher deductibles, copays, and coinsurance for working families, which could result in fewer individuals with health-care coverage and higher levels of chronic health problems.—JWP


Other Health-Benefits Issues to Consider

• Two-thirds of Americans with health-care coverage—156 million people—currently have employment-based coverage.

• Forcing consumers to pay more out of pocket is not the answer to minimizing the escalating cost of health care. It’s essentially shifting costs rather than reducing costs.

• An important consideration in addressing cost growth is getting providers (hospitals, physicians, drug companies) to become more efficient and to deliver care in more cost-effective ways—which is what most other industrialized countries do to contain health-care cost growth.—JWP

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Shaping History

Foiling Rampant Hijacking
By John Perkinson, Staff Writer

In this installment of “Shaping History,” excerpts from George Hopkins’s Flying the Line chronicle ALPA’s efforts to institute passenger screening and thwart the widespread “skyjacking” of the 1960s and ’70s.

“Historically, some of ALPA’s toughest fights were with companies and the government over the proper balance between safety and economy. In a sense, this scenario would repeat itself in skyjacking, with ALPA urging a no-holds-barred, full-forward approach and the government and the airlines always seeking the least costly solution.” (page 261)

“This threat hung over every airline pilot. Several hundred flight crews had to face the challenge of skyjacking, ranging from the 28-hour odyssey of Capt. William R. Haas of Southern (later Republic) to the wounding of Capt. Dale Hupe of TWA, each of whom had to make life-or-death decisions to save his aircraft.” (page 268)

“With ALPA’s help, Congressman Frank Leslie Chelf introduced an amendment to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, which would have tightened screening procedures to prevent people carrying concealed weapons from boarding as passengers [, but] ATA opposed any kind of passenger screening or search.” (pages 266–7)

“By 1962, when Charley Ruby took over as ALPA president, it was obvious that the FAA was going to bow to ATA’s opposition to tougher screening of boarding passengers. ‘We beat our brains out for years on this cockpit security thing,’ says Charley Ruby, ‘but we were getting nowhere; we were still vulnerable because it seemed as if everybody was pretending that what happened once couldn’t happen again.’” (page 267)

“[There were] 160 skyjackings of U.S. airlines from 1968 to 1972, which included the murder of one airline pilot and the wounding of eight others….” (page 272)

“In 1969…[the] FAA finally appointed a special task force to study electronic screening of passengers on the ground…. Ultimately, the task force opted for the ALPA program of intensive ground screening, but not without unremitting pressure by ALPA…. After implementation of ALPA’s program, the skyjacking problem started to abate, at least on U.S. domestic flights. Combining rigorous electronic screening with behavioral profiles of boarding passengers compiled by a team of psychologists, ground security officers began to make a real dent in the rate of skyjacking.” (pages 269–70)

“Although a solution was at hand to the domestic skyjacking problem after 1971, for U.S. pilots involved in international operations it was another story. Many pilots were never aware of IFALPA until they began to need its services desperately in the fight against international terrorism.” (page 270)

“With an epidemic of political and economic terrorism abroad in the world…the professional airline pilots of the world, speaking through the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), would demand strong action to curb aerial piracy.” (page 262)

“For Capt. J.J. O’Donnell, who stepped from the command of an Eastern Air Lines DC-9 to the helm of ALPA in the midst of a sickening international wave of aerial piracy in 1971, the crusade against skyjacking would be an all-consuming passion. Nearly everything ALPA did between 1970 and 1974 would necessarily take a backseat to the elimination of skyjacking.” (page 261)

“In the United States, the fruits of ALPA’s labor were most apparent in the Anti-hijacking Act of 1974, one of the last pieces of legislation Richard Nixon signed before his resignation.” (page 272)

“ALPA President O’Donnell stressed that the excellence of the 1974 law should not allow the air transportation industry ‘to be lulled into a false sense of complacency…. The new law is the result of sacrifice, bloodshed, anxiety, pain, and abuse suffered by flight deck and cabin crews,’ O’Donnell declared in 1974. ‘It is the result of long, frustrating, laborious effort on the part of ALPA members, committees, officers, and staff who made sure that the legislation did not become lost in the congressional jungle.’” (page 276)


Go to the Source!

ALPA members conducted an Association-wide, 24-hour SOS (suspension of service) in 1972 to draw attention to the worldwide hijacking crisis. To learn more about this incredible event, read the e-version of Flying the Line, Chapter 24—Skyjacking, available at of—JWP

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