CAPA Supports FAA Administrators' new position on House Bipartisan Airline Safety Bill


download pdf

Contact: Captain Paul Onorato
(202) 624-3540

Washington, DC – March 8, 2010. The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) which represents over 28,000 pilots, strongly opposes legislation introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) to allow the use of Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVR’s) as a means of punishing airline pilots found to be violating sterile cockpit and other established procedures while flying. Sen. DeMints’ language would turn back the clock on every safety improvement the industry has attained in the last fifteen years of voluntary aviation safety programs. Neither the FAA nor NTSB supports the use of these devices as in-flight monitoring and disciplinary tools. The NTSB supports routine downloading of CVR data for use in voluntary safety reporting programs. Although, they specifically stated that for this information to be useful as a tool in mitigating aircraft incidents and accidents it should be de-identified to protect the confidentiality of the crewmembers and airlines involved.

Since its’ development as an accident investigation tool, CVR’s have always been a forensic method to determine causal matters related to aircraft accidents. Expanding their uses to include the “real time” monitoring and punishment of pilots is misguided, and to expect airline flight crews to work in such an environment as a means of enhancing aviation safety is wrong. Such a measure would actually harm flight safety by suppressing the necessary communications required to effectively manage the cockpit.

CAPA’s President, Captain Paul Onorato said, “this bill would destroy voluntary safety reporting programs such as Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP).” “It would also reduce safety in commercial airline operations by inhibiting the free flow of information required to evaluate and improve system performance; these programs in use by some airlines have led to the evolution of a mature and improved safety culture among the major US Airlines and must not be abandoned”, he added.

CAPA calls on all each member of the Senate to strongly oppose any measure by Sen. DeMint and others to effect this change and irreparably harm our aviation safety system in America.

The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations is a trade association which represents over 28,000 professional pilots at carriers including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, UPS, ABX Air, US Airways, Atlas Air Cargo, Kalitta Air, Polar Air Cargo, Southern Air, and NetJets.