US pilots welcome FAA Reauthorization but reiterate concerns over single-pilot cargo aircraft

27 / 04 / 2018

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) has commended the US House of Representatives for its "strong, bipartisan passage" of a five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization but expressed its disappointment regarding the inclusion of a study into single pilot cargo aircraft.

The union said the Reauthorization would not only advance safety for the traveling and shipping public but also fair competition for US aviation workers.

“The bill makes significant strides in enhancing safe operations for airline passengers, crews, and cargo," ALPA said.

"The measure maintains life-saving first officer qualification, training, and experience requirements; improves the safe transport by air of lithium batteries; mandates secondary cockpit barriers on new passenger airliners; prescribes the automatic acceptance of voluntary safety reports; and supports the authorisation of pilot assistance programsmes.

"In addition, the Reauthorization contains an amendment offered by Representative Peter DeFazio to allow the FAA to regulate unmanned aircraft systems flown by hobbyists to enhance the safety of all who operate in the national airspace, including planes carrying passengers and cargo."

However, ALPA said it was disappointed by a provision in the Reauthorization that would introduce a new safety risk by taking initial steps to promote single-operator commercial cargo aircraft.

Contained within the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 is a programme that would see the FAA, in consultation with NASA and other relevant agencies, establish a research and development programme in support of single-piloted cargo aircraft assisted with remote piloting and computer piloting.

"Air transportation is extremely safe in North America, due in no small part to the presence of two well-qualified, adequately trained, and properly rested pilots at the aircraft controls," ALPA said.

"While we support new technology, ALPA agrees with NASA that single-operator aircraft are not safe. We oppose the provision, Section 744, because it will undermine the safety of our airspace, and we urge Congress to reject it."

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