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Bill to allow anyone access to CVR / FDR - WSJ

Ed Harley

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Are you kidding me?:

Bill Seeks to Allow Airlines Access to Cockpit Conversations

By ANDY PASZTOR

Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, plans to introduce a bill that would break a taboo in the airline industry: allowing airlines to use information from cockpit voice recorders in cases against pilots they want to discipline or fire.
Current labor contracts effectively bar major U.S. carriers from relying on information gathered from cockpit-recorders, or, in some cases, flight-data recorders to punish pilots or monitor their performance during trips. But the proposed legislation seeks to overturn those longstanding restrictions in both areas, which is already riling pilot union leaders.

The move also shines a spotlight on privacy and other complex legal questions surrounding the use of such information by airlines to make personnel decisions.
Today, cockpit voice recorder data doesn't become public or lead to actions against pilots unless there is an accident or serious incident investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration or the National Transportation Safety Board. Allowing airlines to use the information for their own personnel decisions would significantly open up an area that currently is considered to be an almost private sanctum for accident investigators.

Called the "Pilot Professionalism Assurance Act," the bill drafted by the Sen. DeMint envisions downloading voice or flight-data recorders "to discipline or discharge a pilot . . . for actions that endanger the safety or well being of passengers." The bill also proposes using previously sacrosanct recordings of cockpit conversations "to evaluate or monitor the judgment or performance of an individual pilot."
Sen. DeMint has not yet formally introduced his legislation and it is unclear what type of support it might find in Congress. The legislation is bound to face stiff resistance from both pilot unions -- and potentially the FAA and the NTSB. One of their principal objections is that the bill could put a chill on the current system of voluntary reporting of safety lapses by pilots. Currently, pilots are encouraged to file anonymous reports on safety problems that arise in the course of duty. Allowing airlines to review cockpit recordings could make pilots more reticent to report shortcomings because they might worry that they would be exposed to disciplinary action from their employer.

However, the bill comes in the wake of several commercial-aircraft accidents and incidents, including the bizarre October flight of a Northwest Airlines jet that lost contact with air-traffic controllers for more than an hour and overflew its destination. The pilots, whose licenses were revoked after the slip-up, told investigators they were engrossed in conversation about revised crew-scheduling procedures and became distracted by turning on and using their personal laptops on the flight deck.
That has created new impetus for stricter pilot oversight measures. There have been two attempts on Capitol Hill in recent weeks to draft legislation supporting installation of video recorders in cockpits. Pilot union officials successfully lobbied and managed to head off those efforts. The Air Line Pilots Association or ALPA, which is the largest pilot union in North America, is gearing up to quietly try to kill the DeMint bill before it is introduced, according to people familiar with the matter.

The escalating controversy focuses on how pilot professionalism conflicts with recent examples of distraction and lax safety standards in the cockpit. Randy Babbitt, the head of the FAA, has spoken out strongly on the need to enhance pilot performance and raise the safety bar by having larger airlines and veteran pilots mentor less experienced pilots at the smaller commuter partners.
But so far, the FAA chief has opposed drastic moves such as stripping cockpit recorders of the confidentiality they have enjoyed for decades. Currently, flight-data recorders are routinely screened for unusual occurrences, but the analysis is done privately inside each airline and the results generally don't become public.

John Prater, president of ALPA, has previously said media pressure shouldn't "lead our industry in a direction that is detrimental to the goal of accident and incident prevention."
Earlier this week. Mr. Prater put out a statement urging Congress to avoid "drafting legislation that simply reacts to events already under investigation."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125866886792856401.html
 

St. Nic

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The news just keeps getting better. Thanks Northwest!
 

gutshotdraw

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Can cockpit cameras be far behind this nonsense?
 

crashpad

"Why do you come to me?"
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Thanks Northwest. Sheesh....will we ever find out what these two liers were really doing?
 

ultrarunner

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Thanks so much Tim Cheney and Richard Cole! We really appreciate the gifts you're going to be shoving up our butt holes for the remainder of our careers.

Now what panel is that circuit breaker on.....
 

timmay

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These are the morons that are making the decisions that lead our country. Unbelievable! That has to be one of the stupidest ideas ever. How about we introduce a bill to monitor the computers of ever member in congress, to make sure they aren't playing solitiare. Lets put microphones everywhere! Genius.
 

aircowboy

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Just duct tape your ipod to the CVR mic playing "Airplane" the Movie lines on repeat.
 

ultrarunner

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Hey, I have made PLENTY! Not casting any stones here! But their fuk-up is likely going to cause more legislation since the towel-head fiasco of 9/11!
 

dispatchguy

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Complete and udder bull********************.

No coincidence that the first 3 letters in CONgress spell CON.

Jackassess
 

waveflyer

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Write your congressman. In no long terms tell them that our safety record is beyond exemplary- and an idea like this will hurt it. Then call demint and franken .... Opportunists to be nice- trying to gain political clout off the backs of our professionalism by citing the mistakes of our .005%
 

get2flyin

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Where is USAPA's fiery response against this?
 

Jetjockey

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I say no problem, right after we get a live video/audio feed from their offices so we can monitor the Senators' every action while they are at work.
 

scoreboardII

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Vaseline on the lens. Can't tell it's there, can't see whats through the lens...
 

Smarta$$

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What do you know, a republican siding with airline management, what a F'N surprise. Vote Red!
 
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