By Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s First Vice President and National Safety Coordinator
As ALPA’s first national officer who comes from an all-cargo carrier, I know from experience the unique challenges faced by pilots who fly freight. As the union’s first vice president and national safety coordinator, I also witness the common commitment to safety, pilot assistance, and security all ALPA pilots share, regardless of what they carry on their aircraft.
Air freight has been part of the North American airline industry since its beginnings. The first cargo flight occurred on November 7, 1910. It took 61 minutes to fly the 70-mile route that traced the railway line between Dayton and Columbus. This cargo flight moved merchandise, but it also gave a leg-up to local business, attracting a crowd of 3,000 people when it landed in Columbus and drawing public attention to a sale at the city’s largest store. Even with its inaugural flight, air freight proved a powerful economic driver.
Like the first passenger operations, all-cargo flying in the early airline industry was fraught with hazard. Ever since I became an ALPA member, I have recognized and respected ALPA’s history of safety advocacy that spans more than 80 years. Our union’s work has been integral to achieving the extraordinary level of safety that is the hallmark of our industry today.
Aviation stakeholders from across the industry met this week in Washington for U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 14th Annual Aviation Summit. While attendees engaged in robust discussion regarding aviation’s role in the global economy, the CEOs of two Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline, were also in D.C., reportedly conducting their own discussions with industry representatives. One of those CEO’s, James Hogan of Etihad, also spoke at the Summit.
Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline, in addition to Qatar Airways, spare no expense—thanks to the financial backing of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates—in trying to convince U.S. officials that their massive subsidies do not distort the international market. But as these state-supported foreign airlines try to convince our government that Open Skies is a win-win-win, I believe their lack of transparency speaks louder than their efforts to explain how their highly subsidized carriers are not in violation of current air transport services agreements – and in effect, results in a lose-lose-lose for the U.S aviation industry.
No one should be fooled by their rhetoric. ALPA recognizes the dangerous reality—the negative domino effect that comes along with hugely state-supported airlines that are growing rapidly and operate without the need to show a profit.
Posted in Fair Skies-Open Skies, SOE
Tagged ALPA, American, Aviation, Delta, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Fair Skies, Jobs, Open Skies, Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, Qatar, UAE, United
In ALPA’s latest effort to secure a fair marketplace for U.S. airlines and airline workers, our union called for the U.S. Export-Import Bank to reject Norwegian Air Shuttle’s application for aircraft financing. Why? Because the bank has not performed the economic assessment required by Congress to determine the effect its lending could have on U.S. airlines and their workers.
In a filing joined by Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines, ALPA underscored how the bank’s below-market lending rates save foreign airlines millions of dollars in financing costs when purchasing widebody airliners. These foreign airlines then use these U.S. taxpayer-subsidized aircraft to compete with U.S. airlines in the international marketplace.
Congress requires the bank to evaluate the financing requests it receives to identify potential harm to U.S. airlines and their workers. It appears that the bank has not performed this Congressionally-mandated analysis. Without it, we don’t know the extent of the adverse effect granting Norwegian’s financing request would have on U.S. industry and workers. As a result, the bank must reject Norwegian’s financing request. Don’t misunderstand—we welcome competition. But it has to be fair competition. The deck shouldn’t be stacked against domestic airlines.
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or “drones” as many like to describe them, are increasingly in the news and in the hands of enthusiasts and commercial users alike. In fact, a quadcopter UAS recently made an unscheduled landing on the White House lawn.
While the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) recognizes the popularity of UAS and the value of remotely piloted aircraft for a variety of commercial applications, safety must be front and center.
It’s quite simple—we are for the safe integration of UAS into our national airspace system.
As a pilot, I need to be able to see a UAS on my cockpit display. Air traffic controllers need to see them too. And the UAS itself must be equipped with safety systems—to include active collision-avoidance technology—in order to operate in shared airspace with commercial aircraft. We are not there yet.
Securing the safety of our nation’s aviation system is our industry’s top priority. In order to maintain our standing as the safest air transport system in the world, we rely on a multilayer approach to security, using numerous strategies that all play important roles. One of those critical layers is the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program.
Since 2003, the FFDO program has been tremendously successful as a strong, ongoing deterrent against hijacking threats. FFDOs are cargo and passenger pilots who volunteer their personal time in order to receive the training required to become deputized FFDOs, and these pilot volunteers pay a portion of the expenses associated with the program. In total, thousands of ALPA pilots flying for cargo and passenger airlines have volunteered their time defending our airspace, securing nearly a million flight segments every year without any personal compensation.
The FFDO program is a proven and cost-effective component of transportation security in this country and has often been praised by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the additional layer of protection it brings to air transportation.