On this day in 1931, 24 pilots joined together to form the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), a professional union dedicated to protecting the interests of airmen. This new pilot organization created a foundation of safety in the early days of commercial flight, and thanks to the first ALPA pilots who paved the way, flying is safer and more secure today. For 84 years, “Schedule with Safety” has remained ALPA’s mission, with airline safety and security being at the core of our operations.
Last week, more than 400 pilots and aviation safety and security experts convened in Washington, D.C., for ALPA’s 61st Air Safety Forum. The four-day event provided a unique opportunity to engage on key issues that affect the future of our industry. Panels of subject-matter experts led thoughtful and engaging discussions regarding longstanding and emerging issues in key areas related to safety. The Air Safety Forum concluded with a celebration of the dedicated pilots whose outstanding contributions continue to uphold the high standards shared by ALPA’s founding members.
Honoring the dedication and commitment ALPA pilots have demonstrated over the past year is the best part of being this union’s president. This year, six pilots received ALPA’s highest honors. Their leadership, spirit of engagement, and vast accomplishments to further advance the piloting profession were added to the list of pilots who over the decades have served as a testament to ALPA’s role as an advocate for safety and security.
On July 16, I testified before members of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Transportation Security about our union’s support for the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) as a key element in a multi-layered, risk-based approach to aviation security that also includes advancing the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program and installing secondary cockpit barriers on passenger airliners.
Throughout the FAMS history, ALPA members have been deeply impressed by the professionalism of the individual air marshals and the dedication of the program’s leaders. Every day, air marshals put their lives at risk to safeguard the passengers and crewmembers on their flights. For that, ALPA and its members are and will always be extremely grateful.
Despite the fact that our jobs require us to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home, ALPA pilots possess a strong spirit of community. Whether it’s in a global, local, corporate, or professional sense, ALPA pilots feel and stay connected. They give back and they give big.
In the “Our Stories” department, Air Line Pilot frequently offers examples of the many ways that pilots contribute to their global community, their workplace culture, and their local neighborhoods.
As a global citizen, one Jazz Aviation pilot works to raise funds for a youth home in the Republic of Uganda that gives boys who live on the streets a place to live and a brighter future. One United pilot ran the entire Superior Hiking Trail, which stretches 296 miles from Duluth, Minn. to the Canadian border, to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Patriotic spirit is soaring this week as both the United States and Canada celebrate their independence. From these nations’ earliest days, their people could plainly see the historic change made possible only by working together toward a greater good.
ALPA has a vested interest in growing competitive airlines that attract the best and brightest pilots. We firmly believe we should do everything within our power to remain the best in the world, because that is a ranking we can’t afford to lose. Unfortunately, there are challenges in our industry that threaten the future of our profession.
Despite there being thousands of qualified pilots available to fly for U.S. airlines, compensation, benefits, quality of life and career progression opportunities at some airlines are inadequate to attract pilots to their ranks. These airlines often blame this on a so-called “pilot shortage.” However, ALPA has long maintained that the airlines struggling to find pilots are those that don’t offer competitive wages, benefits, reasonable working conditions, and a solid career path. We recently released a video emphasizing our position.