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Wed, Oct 28, 2009

Delta Pilots’ Union Calls NTSB Release On Minneapolis Incident 'Premature'

Issues Statement on Northwest Flight 188 Investigation

The Delta Master Executive Council, which is the Delta branch of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) representing the over 12,000 pilots of Delta Air Lines, Monday issued the following statement concerning the NTSB investigation into Northwest Flight 188.

“As professional airline pilots, our primary concern is and always will be the safety and well-being of our passengers,” said Captain Lee Moak, Delta MEC Chairman. “In any aircraft incident, there is always more to the story than first appears in the press. We do not condone the abandonment of due process that will result from a rush to judgment; instead we implore all interested parties to move with deliberate and unemotional professionalism as the events surrounding this incident are investigated.”

On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, ATC lost radio contact with Northwest Flight 188, and Flight 188 subsequently overflew its destination before radio contact was reestablished. The aircraft remained visible to ATC radar at all times. Once radio contact was reestablished, the aircraft returned for a safe landing at its destination. At no time were the passengers, crew or aircraft in danger.

Over the past several years, labor, management, the industry and government agencies have partnered, expending significant amounts of time, money and effort, to develop programs such as Aviation Safety Action Programs (ASAP) and Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) programs designed to improve the safety of our nation’s aviation system. The core tenet of these programs is the ability of pilots to self disclose without fear of retribution in order to help make the U.S. aviation system the safest in the world.

“To date, all crew statements related to this case have been voluntary. We are disappointed that these voluntary statements are being used without regard for the breach of trust and confidence their use will cause,” Captain Moak remarked. “Programs like ASAP and FOQA could be dealt a debilitating blow as pilots question the integrity of these voluntary programs. A rush to judgment by the NTSB will have a direct impact on the future of voluntary safety programs, which are at the very core of the safety structure of the U.S. aviation industry. The continued viability of these programs themselves will be placed at risk. That will, in turn, cause irreparable harm to the safety of our nation’s aviation system.”

“The NTSB is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents and promoting transportation safety. They are not charged with prematurely releasing self-disclosed information to be sensationalized in the press,” Captain Moak insisted.

“We will work closely with Delta and federal officials to determine any root causes for last weeks sequence of events,” Captain Moak continued, “but in the meantime I strongly encourage all parties not to reach a hasty conclusion. There is a proper venue for this investigation, but we stand firmly behind the crew’s right to due process.”

FMI: www.deltapilots.org

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