NATCA Members Participate in ALPA Annual Safety Forum
Friday, August 10, 2012
This week, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) held its 58th annual Air Safety Forum (ASF) at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. NATCA was a sponsor and a couple of our members were invited to speak on two different panels.
Tabletop Scenario - Bomb in Flight
NATCA National Safety Committee New England Region Representative Mike Blake (fourth from right) participated in ALPA's Tabletop Scenario-Bomb in Flight closed session on Tuesday morning.
In a members-only closed session on Tuesday, NATCA National Safety Committee New England Region Representative Mike Blake participated in a tabletop scenario about a bomb in flight.
Also on the panel were representatives from each sector of the aviation community that would be involved in such a scenario, including: Association of Flight Attendants Coordinator of Air Safety, Health and Security, Candace Kolander; Delta Airlines Captain, Harry G. “Boomer” Bombardi; and Transportation Security Agency Explosives Operations Division Chief, Ed Kittel.
The panel talked through a hypothetical flight departing from Washington National Airport (DCA) and the process that would take place if a passenger was suspected of having an implanted improvised explosive device (IED), otherwise known as a “body bomb.” Each representative discussed the point at which he or she would become involved in the situation and what action he or she would take to minimize risk and ensure safety.
After the panelists finished talking through the scenario, Kolander said that while flight attendants receive basic training about bombs, there needs to be more and advanced comprehensive training from individual airlines in counter-terrorism techniques. The other panelists agreed, because in a situation such as this, Kittel said, the worst thing a member of the flight crew can do is “wing it.”
“Just talking about this scenario increases my heart rate,” said Blake. “I think this is an invaluable exercise and I am certainly going to recommend to my peers that we go through and discuss these types of scenarios because we may have been through a similar event 11 years ago, but those types of things don’t remain in your mind all the time. Those lessons learned probably fade.”
Capt. Moak Opening Remarks, Wednesday
ALPA Int'l. President Captain Lee Moak speaks during the opening ceremony of ALPA's 58th annual Air Safety Forum
On Wednesday, ALPA President Captain Lee Moak kicked off the organization’s 58th annual Air Safety Forum opening to the public.
Reiterating ALPA’s theme of “Everything Matters” for this year’s ASF, Moak said that when it comes to advancing aviation safety, ALPA is uniquely positioned to bring industry stakeholders together and keep focus on issues critically important to the aviation safety initiative.
He was proud to share with attendees the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) recent report that last year’s accident rate was the lowest in history, with a 39 percent drop in accident rates when compared to 2010. He was also proud to share the accomplishments ALPA has made in the past year for their members and the industry, in the areas of safety, security and pilot assistance. Those accomplishments include the Known Crew Member program, implementation of new regulations for pilot fatigue safety improvements and advocacy for the Safe Skies Act, which seeks to advance a standardized level safety for all types of flight operations in the US and Canada, across the airline industry.
“The success of programs like Known Crew Member underscores the effectiveness of utilizing a risk-based approach to aviation safety and security,” said Moak. “ALPA continues to advocate for adoption of this approach because it will help advance aviation security, making air transportation more customer friendly and ensures the US airline industry continues to fuel the nation’s economy and provide jobs.”
ALPA has worked closely with FAA over the years to promote the highest level of safety for the nation’s air transportation system, and Moak said he is happy to report that this year the long-term FAA reauthorization bill was finally passed. The reauthorization will allow for the advancement of many of ALPA’s priorities, including NextGen initiatives, runway safety enhancements, strengthening of voluntary aviation safety data protections and support for critical aviation safety research.
On The Radar: Critical Safety Issues At Our Airports
NATCA National Runway Safety Team Representative Ric Loewen spoke on a panel about critical safety issues at our airports.
On Wednesday afternoon, NATCA’s runway safety representative Ric Loewen spoke on a panel to discuss critical safety issues at airports and the latest developments influencing the safe operating environment in and around North America’s busiest airports. Loewen is also a NATCA representative on the Runway Status Lights deployment and NATCA Southwest Region Alternate Regional Vice President (ARVP).
Panel moderator and ALPA Airport Ground and Environment Group Chairman Steve Jangelis led the panel through discussions of five topics of concern: ground collision and avoidance, bird strike mitigation, runway excursions, winter operations, and airport constriction.
On the topic of ground collision avoidance, Jangelis asked Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Director of Runway Safety Patrick Doyle what improvements are being made to pilot and vehicle operator education. Doyle said that the FAA is working with NATCA to develop a training course for all vehicle operators because the FAA has found that it could provide better training and recurrent training.
Jangelis asked Loewen what NATCA controllers are doing to keep pilots away from runway excursions and ground collisions, and Loewen touched on several points. He said that in the last three years NATCA has worked more collaboratively with the FAA, which has been enormously beneficial. He added that training has been the same for the past 23 years that he’s worked at the FAA but since NATCA controllers have been involved in the training, it is becoming more tied to real events.
“By developing training programs ourselves, I think they are better received by my peers,” said Loewen. “It helps for them to know we developed and seek their feedback.”
He also said that if any pilots have NATCA controllers on their flights as part of the new Flight Deck Training program, it's beneficial to point out to the controller what the pilots know are the “hotspots” when they taxi out from the gate. Oftentimes, controllers may not know where those are for the pilot.
Jangelis added, “The key word is collaboration, as far as getting the controllers back on our flight decks, which is something we endorse. It takes collaboration.”
Loewen also took the opportunity to advocate the use of the voluntary reporting safety systems so pilots and controllers can make the system better for all the users.
“Help us to put you in the position to succeed,” said Loewen. “Help us help you with communication. If you fly through an airport where we put you in a position you don’t like, let us know right then so we can learn and give you what you need because you are starting to fly aircraft we’ve never dealt with and you’ve never flown.”
For more information about the forum and in depth coverage, please visit http://www.alpa.org/.
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