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ALPA On The Warpath With DOT, Republic, SkyWest

Urges DoT to Reject Republic, SkyWest Bids to Undermine Landmark Safety Law

ALPA has filed formal opposition against two separate applications before the DOT and FAA asserting that both efforts are blatant attempts to skirt the nation’s most effective aviation safety improvements in decades—the First Officer Qualification Rules—and will leave the flying public at increased risk.

Recently, Republic Airways and SkyWest Airlines filed independent petitions seeking approvals that would dimmish pilot training qualification and experience requirements while putting passengers and small communities that depend on safe, scheduled air service at greater risk.

“Republic and SkyWest are now conceding that, despite receiving substantial federal support, they still can’t figure out how to competently manage an airline without cutting corners on safety,” said Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA president.

“American taxpayers subsidized these airlines and now they are attempting to undermine the most effective aviation safety measure in modern time—a measure that has resulted in a 99.8 percent reduction in passenger airline fatalities. Their requests would be laughable if they weren’t so deadly serious and should be summarily rejected.”

In April, Republic requested an exemption from pilot training qualification and experience requirements for aspiring aviators enrolled in the company’s private flight academy, arguing that their training program is equal to that of the U.S. military and trainees should be able to operate airline aircraft after 750 flight hours of experience.

“Republic’s proposal that their academy is equivalent to pilot training provided by the United States military and better than professional pilot training provided by accredited colleges and universities is just flat-out wrong. Not only is this proposal a solution in search of a problem; it’s a solution that would have real life-and-death consequences if approved,” said DePete.

Separately, despite receiving three times more federal money to operate essential air service (EAS) small-community flying than any other carrier, SkyWest has attempted to renege on their contractual commitments and are now officially requesting that DOT permit them to shift some of their current scheduled operations to an “alter ego” charter airline with lesser-experienced, lesser-qualified first officers on the flight deck.

“Alter-ego swaps of the type proposed here have no place in the realm of commercial, reliable, and safe aviation,” wrote DePete in ALPA’s filing.

The First Officer Qualification law and resulting regulations were passed by Congress in the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010 after four high-profile fatal airline accidents occurred over a six-year period, including Continental Flight 3407. These airline accidents, which killed scores of passengers, focused the nation’s attention on how to increase aviation safety, and aviation stakeholders and elected officials responded.

Among numerous significant aviation safety improvements included in the bill was strengthening pilot training qualification and experience requirements to include, for example, specific training for stall recognition and recovery and flight in adverse weather conditions.

These strengthened pilot-certification requirements have made U.S. skies the safest in the world, and have helped keep America flying.

“For more than 90 years, ALPA pilots have been committed to getting the passengers and cargo we fly safely to destinations around the globe. Our motto has always been ‘Schedule with Safety,’ and we live and breathe that mantra every day when we are flying the line. It is important to remember our nation’s extraordinary safety record is because of our collective, unwavering commitment to support aviation safety,” added DePete.

FMI: www.ALPA.org, www.transportation.gov

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