CAPA Capitol Hill Update

Washington, DC - (December 17, 2013).  

Greetings from Capitol Hill!  The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), a trade association, represents 5 independent unions with more than 25,000 professional passenger and cargo airline pilot members. CAPA has a long and distinguished history of successful and effective advocacy for its members, in Washington and abroad, on issues effecting the airline industry that are of common concern.

Collaboration is critical to effective advocacy. CAPA believes strongly that, with the constant threats the piloting profession, industry, and passengers face, it is imperative for pilot labor associations to work cooperatively on trade issues of common concern that transcend the traditional, but still critical, role each labor organization plays in representing its members. This united front on important airline trade issues provides clear, objective, guidance on airline matters in which our members have a great deal of expertise and experience.

We are an active and respected participant in the policymaking process with Congress and the various regulatory agencies that interact with the aviation industry. CAPA's role as an advocate for the profession and its technical expertise have been recognized by both lawmakers and regulators when participating in rulemaking committees with regulatory agencies and roundtable discussions with policymakers. CAPA and its member associations are also stakeholders in international trade and aviation discussions.

Our Capitol Hill updates summarize current and past efforts and illustrate our organization's effectiveness. Following is a summary of our ongoing presence in these discussions:

Safe Skies Act of 2013:  On Nov. 13, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and co-sponsors Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) re-introduced the "Safe Skies Act of 2013". CAPA representatives participated in a press event on Capitol Hill along with Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger to support this crucial safety legislation for cargo pilots.

"This legislation will ensure that pilots of passenger planes and cargo planes are flying under the same standard," Senator Boxer said. "We must close this dangerous loophole to ensure that cargo pilots are well-rested before they fly." The Safe Skies Act of 2013 has also been re-introduced in the House of Representatives by Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Timothy Bishop (D-NY).

Capt. Sullenberger supports this important safety legislation and provided comments at the press event. "When a large plane flies over your house in the middle of the night, it doesn't matter whether it's carrying cargo or passengers, whether you are a Democrat or Republican," he said. "The danger is all the same if the pilots are fatigued."

All-cargo and supplemental operators share the same airspace, airports, runways and taxiways with passenger carriers and should be subject to the same safety regulations. There is no scientific foundation for establishing a separate set of pilot duty and rest rules based on the type of operation they conduct.

CAPA fully supports the adoption of industry fatigue rules that place the safe transportation of the flying public at the highest level of safety standards. It is vitally important to the safety of our nation's transportation system. Until Flight and Duty Rest regulations are applied to all-cargo carriers and supplemental carriers, we will never truly have "One Level of Safety."


(CAPA representatives, along with Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger participated in Senator Barbara Boxer's press event for Safe Skies Act of 2013 on November 13, 2013. Other Congressional representatives included Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Reps. Timothy Bishop (D-NY) and Michael Grimm (R-NY).

FAA's Air Carrier Training Roundtable: 


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently published the "Qualification, Service and Use of Crewmembers and Aircraft Dispatchers Final Rule", which is a positive step toward addressing known risk areas in pilot training.

CAPA participated in the FAA's Air Carrier Training Roundtable, comprising of training representatives across the industry, and highlighted the work that has been accomplished and discussed how to prioritize and implement the work that remains related to air carrier training. The FAA also discussed ways to further develop and implement many other recommendations that have been provided to the FAA, over the past several years, and those that could be possibly voluntarily implemented. 

F

AA & Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):  

In November, FAA officials announced their intent to subject all pilots with a body mass index (BMI), of 40 or more — who might be at risk of having a sleep disorder, even in the absence of any clinical evidence — to potentially expensive testing and evaluation.

House Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Rick Larson (D-WA) have introduced legislation H.R. 3578 which would ensure the FAA conducts an open rulemaking process before changing the medical certification requirements with sleep disorders.

CAPA supports this bipartisan legislation. We believe the full comment period in the defined rulemaking proceeding is essential to accurately evaluate a proposal that has the potential to adversely affect our members and the aviation industry.

Abu Dhabi Preclearance Facility:
 As reported in our previous update, the U.S. signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and built a preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport, scheduled to open in early 2014. The Abu Dhabi royal family owns Etihad Airways, the UAE's national carrier and the only airline with regular service to the U.S. from Abu Dhabi.

This facility is benefitting the UAE's state-supported airline at the expense of U.S. airlines, workers and the traveling public. U.S. carriers will be forever barred in their ability to compete on a level playing field in the global marketplace. CAPA continues to oppose the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to establish a CBP facility at the Abu Dhabi International Airport and other proposed facilities in the Middle East.

Last month, Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3488) to block the opening of the Abu Dhabi preclearance facility. This legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress with an economic impact assessment before opening another preclearance facility.

Additionally, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) recently introduced H.R. 3575 "Putting Security First in Preclearance Act" cosponsored by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Yvette Clark (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Ron Barber (D-AZ), Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ).

This legislation would require a security assessment before the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can expand customs preclearance operations to new countries and airports such as Abu Dhabi. It would also require the DHS to conduct a study and report to Congress about how a new preclearance location would enhance security, the costs involved, and any resulting impact on DHS staffing levels for U.S. airports. In addition, the bill would prevent foreign governments from paying for U.S. security operations.

CAPA believes the DHS must adequately support the U.S. aviation system and its carriers before the use of overseas facilities is expanded. We must fix the problem in our domestic aviation system by addressing the misallocation of fees that are not properly used for aviation services. We continue to work with Congress and Administration officials to resolve these critical issues.


(Left to Right: Eddie Mayenschein/TSA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Security Policy and Industry Engagement, TSA Administrator John Pistole, CAPA President Mike Karn, Bob Bray/TSA Assistant Administrator for OLE & Director/FAMS and John Sammon/TSA Assistant Administrator for Security Policy and Industry Engagement).




FCC & Use of Cell Phones on Airplanes:  
On Dec. 9, Representatives Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Peter DeFazio D-OR) introduced H.R. 3676 "Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013’’. This legislation is in response to the FCC's recently announced plans to review the current ban on the use of cell phones for calls in the aircraft cabin during flights.

The FCC has recently voted to gather comments regarding lifting the ban against cell phone use on planes, with a target of lifting it in the near future. While the DOT has recently issued a statement regarding its plan to examine continuing a ban on in-flight cell phone calls on U.S. carriers, we will continue to monitor this issue.


(Left to Right: FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, CAPA Executive Vice President Larry Rooney, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, CAPA President Mike Karn and CAPA International Affairs Chairman Bob Coffman.)


In closing, CAPA remains ready to meet today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities for all members of our profession. We look forward to your continuing support. On behalf of CAPA and our 25,000 professional passenger and cargo pilots, have a safe and happy holiday season!


The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) a trade association representing more than 25,000 professional passenger and cargo pilots at American Airlines (Allied Pilots Association), US Airways (US Airline Pilots Associations), UPS Airlines (Independent Pilots Association), Allegiant Air, Atlas Air, ABX Air, Horizon Air, Cape Air, Kalitta Air, Miami Air, Omni Air, Silver Airways, Southern Air (Teamsters Local 1224), Republic Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Shuttle America and Chautauqua Airlines (Teamsters Local 357).