Woerth, Moak Recognize the Past, Focus on the Future at Air Safety Forum

August 17, 2011 - Past and present ALPA leaders called on aviation advocates at ALPA’s 57th annual Air Safety Forum today to remember the triumphs of past generations and draw on that legacy to achieve transformational change in the global airline industry.

Capt. Duane Woerth, former ALPA president and current US Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization, was the keynote speaker as the general sessions of the ASF opened today in Washington, DC. Woerth told attendees that the 80th anniversary of ALPA’s founding is a time for celebration as well as an opportunity to remember the Association’s core values of safety, security and pilot assistance, reminding them that while “defeats fly solo, victories come with wingmen.”

“Most progress comes through the dogged persistence of countless aviation professionals. Bit by bit, inch by inch, they keep moving the ball forward,” he said.

Woerth, a two-term ALPA president from 1999 to 2006, called ICAO a remarkable international success story that has standardized aviation regulations worldwide since its founding in 1944 even though it has little to no regulatory authority and relies on voluntary compliance from its 190 member nations.

Like ALPA, the organization is focusing on improving pilot fatigue standards and calling on airlines to provide more realistic training and global pilot licensing.

Woerth said the major goal of ICAO’s upcoming 12th Air Navigational Conference is how to create global ATC and air navigation standards as North America, Europe and Japan prepare to invest $120 billion or more on groundbreaking satellite-based air traffic systems like NextGen. It’s a tall order, since each nation’s system is different but aircraft builders and airline operators demand standardized systems that will harmonize with ATC anywhere in the world.

But just as individual pilots, engineers and regulators solved thorny problems in the past, the current generation will do the same, Woerth said.

“We will do it. We will do it all. We will not be the first generation to give up on our future because the sledding is mostly uphill, because it’s always been uphill. We will live up to the legacy of past generations,” he said.

Current ALPA President Capt. Lee Moak reminded attendees of ALPA’s safety and security achievements over the past eight decades.

“Our achievements over the years are due in large part to our collective strength and multifaceted aviation safety structure. It’s a powerful combination of pilot leaders and staff professionals who bring their depth of knowledge, expertise in virtually every area of aviation, and vast experience to help in these initiatives.

Our success is also due to our constructive engagement and partnership with the many stakeholders—from legislators and regulators, to manufacturers and operators, other employee groups, unions, and ALPA pilot groups—who share our goal of advancing the highest standards of air safety. I believe that this type of collaboration is paramount to accomplishing this mission.”

He also addressed unfinished business such as final government approval of an FAA reauthorization bill and new rules governing flight and duty time.

“I want to be clear: flight time/duty time is a critical safety regulation, and it needs to get through and be put in effect as soon as possible. This is critical to everyone,” Moak said.

Upcoming speakers at the 57th Air Safety Forum include TSA Administrator John Pistole and NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. The ASF concludes tomorrow night with the presentation of ALPA’s annual air safety, security, pilot assistance and superior airmanship awards.