In today’s age of economics driven by corporate greed, there are many trade unions in our country at odds with the so-called “captains” of their industries and the profit-obsessed mindset of upper management. Few unions, however, share such similar struggles as the members of the SMART Transportation Division and those that represent airline crews.
Currently, as our freight rail members await the results of an FRA ruling on the sanctity of the two-person crew in the locomotive cab, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) is defending that exact same safety measure in the air. As flight crews cope with an epidemic of aggressive and often-violent behavior, our commuter rail and bus members are right there with them fighting that same battle on the nation’s roads and rails.
In light of these parallels, SMART-TD would like to state with clarity that we support ALPA in their efforts to legislate a two-pilot flight crew. Just as with our rail members, task overload, menu diving into screens/gauges, as well as fatigue are common distractions for pilots and impede safe operations. SMART-TD members know that reality all too well. We also know that redundancy and the second pair of eyes of an experienced fellow crew member are far better for safety than any computer software Silicon Valley can sell our industries on as they look to cut headcount and costs.
On Monday, January 16th ALPA is celebrating the 14-year anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson” when the highly skilled crew of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and F/O Jeffrey Skiles worked together to save the lives of 155 passengers and the crew of Flight 1549 famously taking the plane with two dead engines to a safe and heroic landing on the Hudson River.
As our brothers and sisters in ALPA make their arguments to the FAA regarding the vital importance of having two trained pilots in the cockpit during the agency’s reauthorization, we need to be on the right side of this fight. Corporate and shareholder profits must not be allowed to be placed above the safety in either the airline or freight rail industries.
SMART-TD commemorates the actions of that two-person crew on that cold January day in 2009 and stands in absolute and unyielding support of ALPA’s efforts in keeping two pilots in America’s cockpits.
Efforts of the airline industry to lobby Congress to amend part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations to allow single-pilot crews are dangerous, short-sighted and would threaten to disrupt the current period of safe operations by the air carriers in our nation. We encourage our members to contact their congressional representatives and tell them to not entertain the thought of disobeying airlines’ Rule of 2.