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Others value ALPA more than many of its members

Rez O. Lewshun

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Remarks of
Robert Sumwalt, Vice Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
to the Air Line Pilots Association
International Pilots Assistance Forum
April 11, 2007
Denver, Colorado
“Pilot Assistance: Do we even need it today?”
It is absolutely great to be here with a group of dedicated people who devote their time to help others in the profession.
When I received the ALPA Air Safety Award, I said something that I believed then, and something that I believe now – ALPA work is important, it does make a difference, it does matter and it does save lives.
Jeff, I applaud your efforts to organize this event, which by all measures, appears to be a huge success. I know pulling it together has been a lot of work for many people, especially the ALPA staff.
If you are like me, you probably find tremendous value networking and having sidebar conversations in the hallways.
ALPA’s Administrative Manual says that the ALPA Pilot Assistance Committee “will provide guidance and assistance to any pilot having difficulty in any aspect of their professional or personal life which may affect their ability to safely operate an airplane.”
Well, just to be provocative, I have titled this presentation: “Pilot Assistance: Do we even need it today?” The answer to that rhetorical question is…, well, I’ll answer that in a few minutes.
In attempting to answer that question, let’s briefly discuss each of the disciplines of ALPA’s Pilot Assistance Committee.
Critical Incident Response Program
First, CIRP. I first met Mimi Tompkins at the ALPA air safety forum in 1991. She and Dr. Don Hudson had a panel where Mimi stood up in front of about 350 strangers and told of the trauma that she experienced following her 1988 accident. As I listened to her I turned to the person next to me and said, “We must never allow this to happen to another of our members.” And, as Mimi stepped off the stage, I introduced myself and told her that I wanted to help her develop a program to help prevent the very trauma that she endured.
We had a slow start, but we had great support and encouragement from former Professional Standards Chairmen Captain Jim McIntyre and Bob Lynch and from Dr. Don Hudson.
I knew that we needed to do something, but couldn’t quite figure out what we needed. It was sometime later that Mimi and I learned that Captain Alan Campbell of Delta was developing such a program for the Delta pilot group.
For the next several months, the three of us worked to develop a program and in May 1994 the ALPA Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution to form the ALPA Critical Incident Response Program.
As Jan Steenblik wrote a few years ago in Air Line Pilot, ALPA’s CIRP is about “being there for fellow pilots, lending an ear - and a helping hand – when bad stuff happens.”
What became very evident through the process of building this program was the need for this type of program.
Dr. Hudson told us that of those ALPA crew members who contacted the ALPA Aeromedical Office following a critical incident/accident, approximately 70 percent of those who received proper treatment continued their aviation careers, but of those who did not receive treatment, approximately 60 to 70 percent left their aviation careers within two years of the critical incident.
Some committed suicide.
Simply put, CIRP helps save lives.

HIMS
The ALPA Code of Ethics and Cannons state that an airline pilot “will realize that nothing more certainly fosters prejudices against and deprives the profession of its high public esteem and confidence than do breaches in the use of alcohol.”
As I was preparing this speech I read an article that mentioned an airline pilot – in this case a pilot who was flying for a very large non-ALPA airline – who had been arrested in uniform, going through security, on his way to his 777. His BAC was reportedly 6 times the legal limit.
The entire profession cringes when we hear stories like this. The piloting community is the brunt of jokes on Letterman and Leno. But, unfortunately, it is not a joke. It is a serious problem that must be addressed.
ALPA has not put its head in the sand on this issue. For over 30 years, with the cooperation of the FAA and almost all the airlines in North America, thousands of airline pilots have been successfully treated for alcoholism and able to return to their flying careers through the HIMS program.
It is a success story that must continue. I suspect that with increased pressures brought on by airline financial difficulties, we have increased the potential for emotional difficulties with employees. And, of course, some turn to alcohol to treat their problems.
So, HIMS is important. And it, too, saves lives.
Aeromedical
When I was an active ALPA member, I thought the ALPA Aeromedical Office was a great benefit. The primary benefit, of course, is that pilots can discuss health matters, in complete confidence, with a physician who knows and understands the professional aviator’s work environment and FAA regulations and policies. Their ultimate goal is to preserve both the pilot’s health and FAA medical certificate.
They receive over 300 calls each day.
A few years ago I received a phone call from “Tom,” a pilot for a corporate flight department. Tom was a good friend of mine and he confided in me that he and others suspected that one of their pilots was suicidal. Tom was calling to ask if I had any idea how to deal with this situation. Even though their company was not involved with ALPA, I knew that the physicians in the ALPA Aeromedical Office had knowledge in how to deal with such a situation. So, I suggested that Tom contact the experts here in Denver. He did and his suspicions were confirmed – the symptoms displayed by this pilot were indeed, consistent with someone contemplating suicide.
With that confirmation, that company was able to outline a plan to get the pilot help that was desperately needed. I think these actions literally saved his life.
Canadian Pilot Assistance
This program has been working well for a long time. When Alan, Mimi and I were working to form the ALPA CIRP, it was before the ALPA/CALPA merger. We turned to our brethren north of the border – those who at the time were active with CALPA’s Pilot Assistance Program – and asked for their assistance and counsel in developing our program. They were a big help to us.
So, this program, too, saves lives.
Conclusions
When I received the ALPA Air Safety Award in 2005 I cited words that are chiseled into the tombstone of Arthur Schindler. If you have seen the movie Schindler’s List or done any reading about the atrocities of the Nazi holocaust, you will recognize that Schindler was one who literally saved thousands from the death camps.
“And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
As I went through each of the above-mentioned disciplines, I noted that they save lives. CIRP, Professional Standards, HIMS, Aeromedical and Pilot Assistance – they all have potential to save lives.​

The work you are doing – it does save lives, and if you have saved just one life, it is as if you have saved an entire world.
So, yes, as I said at the beginning: ALPA work is important. It does matter, it does make a difference, and yes, it does save lives.
Now, back to that question - Pilot Assistance – Do We Even Need It Today? In case you haven’t figured it out by now, yes, we need it more now than ever.
ALPA is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers, staff and friends who are devoted to fulfilling this mission.
You are, as the slogan of this meeting says, “Meeting the challenge.”
Congratulations. Keep up the great work!​
 

Freight Dog

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That's beautiful, Rez! Brings a tear to my eye.

Once again, it doesn't say diddly for ALPA's bargaining abilities.

ALPA should become for airline pilots what AOPA is for GA pilots.
 

FDJ2

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That's beautiful, Rez! Brings a tear to my eye.

Once again, it doesn't say diddly for ALPA's bargaining abilities.

ALPA should become for airline pilots what AOPA is for GA pilots.

Does AOPA negotiate CBA's?

How would you improve ALPA's baragaining abilities?
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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That's beautiful, Rez! Brings a tear to my eye.

Once again, it doesn't say diddly for ALPA's bargaining abilities.

ALPA should become for airline pilots what AOPA is for GA pilots.

The point is... satisfied needs are not motivators. The NTSB speech shows the value of ALPA thru current programs that we take for granted. Does it matter if you lose your job? Nope. But when you were an ALPA member and enjoyed these protections what were you doing? Years ago, when life was good or content did you work to strenghten your postion in case Aloha went BK?

My airline went thru what yours did... seven years ago.. so you certianly had notice.

In addition, I haven't heard from you what you think ALPA should be doing that it is not to improve your dilema.


AOPA is a hobby organization for many. Is your career a hobby? Did you treat it like one when times were content?
 

CaptBud330

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Alpo Bites

ALPO S*CKS THE BIG ONE! Totally worthless organization but the big wigs live high on your teat.
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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Others beg to differ:

http://atlasforteamsters.com/

Looks like Atlas/Polar will be the next to leave ALPA.


Cause Dave Allen took an LOA from Atlas only to return with an appointment as the IBT Aviation Director? Wow... wonder where the push to become IBT is coming from?
 

PCL_128

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ALPA should become for airline pilots what AOPA is for GA pilots.

You mean a manipulative little group of con artists that swindles general aviation pilots out of their money to benefit business jet owners? AOPA is a joke. Nothing but a tool used by business jet owners to advance their own agenda.
 

johnnyb

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Cause Dave Allen took an LOA from Atlas only to return with an appointment as the IBT Aviation Director? Wow... wonder where the push to become IBT is coming from?

You are correct. From what I have seen the Atlas pilot group is mindlessly loyal to their MEC and have been quite unhappy with ALPA for many years. Polar is outnumbered ( I believe ) 3 to 1.

I'm convinced the outcome is inevitable - just a matter of going through the steps to decertify.

Not said with any malice or ill will to ALPA or its supporters .....
 

PCL_128

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Cause Dave Allen took an LOA from Atlas only to return with an appointment as the IBT Aviation Director? Wow... wonder where the push to become IBT is coming from?

My thoughts exactly. (I think you meant Dave Bourne, though ;) )
 

weasel_lips

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You mean a manipulative little group of con artists that swindles general aviation pilots out of their money to benefit business jet owners? AOPA is a joke. Nothing but a tool used by business jet owners to advance their own agenda.

Change one or two words and it would describe ALPO too.
 

PCL_128

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imacdog

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You mean a manipulative little group of con artists that swindles general aviation pilots out of their money to benefit business jet owners? AOPA is a joke. Nothing but a tool used by business jet owners to advance their own agenda.

Stop. Just stop right there. You have no idea what AOPA does and what services it provides for GA pilots and aircraft owners.
 

PCL_128

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Stop. Just stop right there. You have no idea what AOPA does and what services it provides for GA pilots and aircraft owners.

I was a member for a long time. I'm well aware of what they do. That's why I wised up and stopped sending them my money.
 

imacdog

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Just curious why there is the NBAA when AOPA does such a great job of robbing from the poor to give to the rich.
 

Bdfg1

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I was a member for a long time. I'm well aware of what they do. That's why I wised up and stopped sending them my money.

Same here...oh wait you mean AOPA...I thought you meant ALPA.

On a serious note PCL...I would like to start a new union..."PFT'ers United". I would like to put your hat into the ring to serve as the first president of the association.
 

pkober

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I was a member for a long time. I'm well aware of what they do. That's why I wised up and stopped sending them my money.

Maybe if you got involved AOPA would have been a better organization.

AOPA's magazine is way better the ALPA's. Much nicer pictures.
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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Maybe if you got involved AOPA would have been a better organization.

point taken :)

AOPA's magazine is way better the ALPA's. Much nicer pictures.

AOPA's rag is like Vogue is for fashion...

Love the ads for the big watches and the pilot puppy farms that will "get you hired" at the regionals... :rolleyes:

Every year I read the same article on SE piston planes... but wait.. this one has a moving map!


AOPA is a hobby. For $39 a year all you get to do is nothing... just the way ALPA pilots like it. No wonder ALPA pilots gush and blush at AOPA...

No voting...

No meetings...

No dues...

No career

No profession.
 
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Freight Dog

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Does AOPA negotiate CBA's?

How would you improve ALPA's baragaining abilities?

I'd get rid of ALPA as a bargaining agent and leave it up to individual pilots to negotiate their own worth. You can't tell me that if Delta goes under, your skill goes from being worth 100k a year to being worth 30k just because you had to start at another carrier.

You can thank ALPA for that one.

How did a buddy of mine get to leave a 130k a year job flying a G for one company and get hired by another flying the same type of plane for starting pay of 155k without utilizing ALPA's superior bargaining skills?
 

Freight Dog

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You mean a manipulative little group of con artists that swindles airline pilots out of their money to benefit the union big shots and airline managements? ALPA is a joke. Nothing but a tool used by senior pilots and union big shots to advance their own agenda.

Exactly! :beer:
 
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