ALPA Chief Pushing Hard for Pilot Fatigue Rule

During the Air Line Pilots Association International's 57th annual Air Safety Forum in Washington, D.C., Capt. Lee Moak sent a letter urging President Obama to issue a final rule.

The Air Line Pilots Association International's president, Capt. Lee Moak, opened ALPA's 57th annual Air Safety Forum this week by recalling the association's creation in 1931, when "pilot error" was used as the blanket excuse for all kinds of plane crashes, he said. The event's theme is "One Level of Safety: 80 Years and Counting," which Moak echoed in an Aug. 16 letter urging President Obama to ensure FAA issues a final rule setting pilots' flight, duty, and rest requirements.

ALPA invited representatives from more than 100 international pilot unions to attend the forum, which has been available as a live webcast. It concludes Aug. 18. Moak also announced ALPA has changed its safety structure to make better use of staff and financial resources, improve accountability, and make the organization more flexible.

"All pilots have a vested interest in ensuring that their operations are as safe as possible," he said. "Today, we have made tremendous improvements, and we still strive to improve and get better, get safer." He said the existing Safety, Security, Pilot Assistance, Cargo, and Canadian safety committees will be organized under a single umbrella called the Air Safety Organization. Capt. Sean Cassidy, ALPA's first vice president, will be ALPA's national safety coordinator, working with Capt. Chuck Hogeman as aviation safety chair and Capt. Jerry McDermott as pilot assistance chair. The union's Executive Board approved the organizational changes earlier this year.

Speakers at the forum include Capt. Randy Babbitt, FAA administrator and a former ALPA president; Capt. Duane Woerth, U.S. ambassador to ICAO and a former ALPA president; Deborah A.P. Hersman, NTSB's chairman; John Pistole, TSA administrator; Nick Calio, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association; and Greg Principato, president of Airports Council International-North America.

In his letter, Moak reminded the president that FAA issued its notice of proposed rulemaking last September, meeting a congressional deadline of Aug. 1, 2011. He said ALPA was pleased to see the deadline met but troubled when rule remained stalled in the Office of Management and Budget; Moak said he met with OMB staffers several weeks ago to reiterate the urgency of the rule.

"Pilot fatigue is not dependent on the type of operation -- it is a universal problem," he wrote. "We ask for your support for One Level of Safety and that you direct the FAA to expeditiously relase a final rule without 'carve outs.'"

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