Pilots Union Accuses American Airlines Of Compromising Safety, Skirting Rules


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Ted Goodman Contributor
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American Airlines officials told employees earlier in July to “speed up” operations, and now the company’s pilots union has responded to the call.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American’s 15,000 pilots, told its pilots not to compromise safety to comply with corporate pushing.

“This erosion of the safety margin cannot be tolerated. Pilot pushing leads to ‘rush to comply’ behavior, and it must stop,” said APA president Dan Carey in a letter to pilots.

The union’s letter was in response to a memo from American Airlines chief operation officer Robert Isom on July 12. Isom told employees that, “for critical flights, our dispatchers and pilots will work together and utilize ‘speed up’ flight plans to reduce delays involving crew duty times where necessary.”

Carey highlighted specific problems the pilots are reporting, including that management is manipulating flight plans to keep up with busy travel schedules.

“These last-minute manipulations are used to make a flight appear legal when in reality it’s not or is, at best, on the ragged edge,” Carey wrote.

American Airlines responded to the union, saying, “Safety and regulatory compliance are always the first and foremost consideration in every decision and in every facet of our company – and we are fortunate that our pilots are the best in the business.”

Carey also said, “often, these initial changes are made without the captain being included. There are even instances of managers promising expedited clearance of a taxi route if crews accept the flight plan.”

The union pointed out specific concerns, which include, “increased airspeeds nearing aircraft limitations,” and “Increased airspeeds even though aircraft are flight planned through areas of forecast or known turbulence — conditions in which aircraft manufacturers direct lower turbulence speeds.”

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