Secondary Barriers Must Be Mandatory

Authored by Captain Jerry Timmerman, Delta B737

Fifteen years ago, at the end of a prosperous decade, our planet was thrown into chaos when four U.S. passenger airplanes were hijacked and turned into missiles. Emotional, economic, and enduring scars from September 11th, 2001 are with us still. As a country, we vowed then to never let such a tragedy happen again, which is why we must mandate secondary barriers on all commercial passenger aircraft now.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, we upgraded our security systems. Cultural and physical changes were made, studied, adjusted, and re-implemented in order to create the risk-based, layered security approach we have now. Today, we have hardened cockpit doors, Transportation Security Officers at every entrance point, and the Federal Flight Deck Officers program, but we still lack one key layer in our aviation security structure: mandatory secondary barriers.

As pilots, we know how often the cockpit door has to be opened during normal operations. In those moments, the cockpit no longer has an impenetrable barrier and our aircraft are open to risk. A flight attendant in the aisle is not an effective deterrent to a hijacker. Federal Air Marshalls and FFDO’s are a great added measure on the flights they happen to be on however, we need a cost-effective, simple secondary barrier in place on all of our aircraft to protect our work spaces and allow us to do our job of safely transporting passengers on every flight, every day.

While the installation of these barriers is first and foremost a security and safety concern, 9/11 also was directly responsible for the economic disaster that persisted for years beyond. Between 2001 and 2007, airline earnings and employment contracted by a third. Thousands of pilots’ careers were destroyed or degraded. Pensions were lost. The U.S. airline industry has finally struggled out of our lost decade but another 9/11-style attack could quickly plunge the industry back into the very same morass no pilot ever wants to revisit.

I hope every ALPA member will join me in calling for mandatory secondary barriers on all commercial passenger aircraft. It is my hope that we will never again see a tragedy like 9/11, but it is all of our responsibility to fight to make that hope a reality.

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By Captain Chuck Dyer, FedEx  MEC Chairman

My fellow pilots at FedEx are engaged in a struggle that I believe poses one of the greatest threats to our pilots’ health and professional welfare imaginable. As you may recall, a few years back, UPS Flight 6 caught fire in the skies of Arabia a few minutes after takeoff, and before the crew could safely land the aircraft, both pilots perished and the aircraft was lost. It was discovered that this fire was caused by lithium batteries—to be clear, more than 80,000 lithium batteries. That’s right, more than 80,000 of them.

We are encouraged that many of the passenger operators have unilaterally chosen to remove this threat by banning shipment of these risky shipments. That being said, I know this issue needs common sense government regulation.

No such voluntary ban on lithium battery shipments has occurred at FedEx. To be certain, as shipments have been banned at passenger carriers, those same shipments have moved to cargo carriers, thereby increasing the risk. With this in mind, I am asking for your help. We are doing everything in our power to get common sense lithium battery regulation on “all cargo” aircraft. This particular issue is easily lost in the focus to remove lithium batteries from passenger flights.

This is an all-call for every pilot and any assistance you can render with the legislative Call to Action is deeply appreciated. Thanks for your consideration.

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Congress must act to ensure the safety of lithium battery shipments by air

Published  in The Hill & Leadership from the Cockpit on December 30, 2015

By Capt. Tim Canoll

Airlines have been making news lately for imposing restrictions on certain items aboard aircraft. An all-out ban on hoverboards and limitations on e-cigarettes in checked luggage are among the latest items to be restricted on passenger flights due to safety concerns. While these two items might sound dramatically different, the reality is that they pose the same problem in-flight: the potential for their lithium battery power source to self-ignite. These batteries pose a safety threat to our aircraft and must be properly regulated.

Many passenger airlines have voluntarily banned bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries because of the dangers they pose, and we fully support these actions. A single defective battery in the cargo compartment can overheat and cause a runaway fire that becomes too hot for standard fire suppression systems to quell. FAA testing has also shown that these batteries quickly produce tremendous heat and emit thick smoke and flammable gas which can fill an entire plane – including the cockpit – in less than eight minutes. Under pressure, the gasses released in a lithium-battery fire can explode. The voluntary ban does not include bulk shipments of electronic equipment with lithium-ion batteries installed.

Despite the known risk, lithium batteries have not been classified as a hazardous material. As a result, unlike finger nail polish and other common products, these batteries have no special packaging requirements regardless of the number of batteries being shipped. The pilot-in-command, responsible for the safe transport of the aircraft, may not even be informed of the presence of certain types of lithium batteries onboard. This is a gaping hole in our safety regulations and one that Congress must address.
In the recent past, lithium batteries have been cited as the direct cause of at least three airline accidents that involved fires on the aircraft. In 2010, UPS Flight 6 crashed due to a lithium battery fire, killing the two pilots on board. Unless Congress takes action now to reverse an existing law that prohibits the U.S. Department of Transportation from adequately regulating shipments of lithium batteries by air, another tragic incident could happen at any time.

Bulk shipments of lithium batteries, which are ubiquitous in our daily lives and enable us to connect via cell phones, computers and cars, pose a real threat on airliners. Until fire suppression systems capable of containing lithium battery fires are developed and installed on commercial aircraft, these battery shipments have no place on board airliners. As Congress turns its attention to the reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration, it must regulate shipments of lithium batteries – lives depend on it.

Posted in Aviation Safety, FAA Reauthorization, Lithium batteries | Leave a comment

If One Hoverboard Poses Too Much Fire Risk on an Airliner, Shouldn’t Shipments of Lithium Batteries be Banned?

Over the past two weeks, airlines throughout the world have announced voluntary bans on the passenger carriage of hoverboards on aircraft. These boards pose a serious threat to the safety of aircraft because of their power source: lithium batteries. Each board has a single battery that is capable of self-igniting and burning hotter than standard fire suppression systems are capable of putting out. That’s bad news mid-flight.

Passenger airlines have recognized the grave dangers posed by just one lithium battery; imagine the incredible threat a pallet-full or an entire cargo compartment of these batteries can pose. While some passenger airlines have also voluntarily banned bulk shipments of lithium ion batteries, other airlines have not and unfortunately, for cargo pilots, they live with this threat every day from the carriage of both lithium ion, and worse, lithium metal battery shipments.

Today, not all types of lithium batteries are fully regulated as hazardous materials and as such some can be carried as cargo without quantity restrictions. No special packaging is required, regardless of the number of batteries being shipped, and the pilot-in-command, responsible for the safe transport of the aircraft, may not be informed of the presence of certain types of lithium batteries onboard.

These batteries are particularly dangerous because of their unique characteristics. One flawed battery in a box can start a chain reaction that will ignite the entire load. In addition to burning incredibly hot, FAA testing found that these batteries generate thick smoke which can fill an entire plane, including the cockpit, in less than eight minutes following ignition.  The gases released during a lithium battery fire are also flammable and can result in explosions.

The FAA, Boeing, and Airbus have all issued statements or studies noting the dangerous nature of these batteries in-flight and have urged proactive measures to protect airline safety. ALPA has long been an advocate of what many passenger carriers have realized: lithium batteries cannot be transported safely given today’s packaging and onboard fire suppression systems.  Lithium batteries should be fully regulated as dangerous goods with all of the safeguards applied to transported materials that pose a risk to aviation safety. You can join in ALPA’s call to appropriately regulate these devices by participating in our call-to-action on this issue today.

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How the Middle East 3 Affects the Low Cost, Mid-size Carriers

By Philip Prada, First Officer, Spirit Airlines

Over the last decade, three state-owned carriers in the Middle East (Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad = ME3) have received more than $42 billion in subsidies and other unfair benefits. On the surface, it’s easy to see why my fellow pilots who fly for low cost carriers don’t believe this issue impacts them. The initial thought is that this only impact international flying at American, Delta, and United. But, the tie is much more closely linked to low cost carriers and regionals. Let me tell you why as a Spirit pilot, I am highly concerned about the impact on the low cost carrier market.

While U.S. airlines compete fairly in our free market, the ME3 carriers are cheating the system and playing by their own rules. They want to dominate the American market – the largest, most lucrative air service market in the world – and are cheating to win. The schemes that the governments of Emirates, Qatar and Etihad use to infuse money into their airlines so they never have to show a profit come in the form of direct capital injections and interest free loans that have no repayment schedule. Of the $42billion, $3.3 billion was spent for the construction of terminal 3 in DXB, Emirates new, exclusive use A380 hub.

The ME3 also saved $3.1 billion in the last 10 years by having non-unionized labor because unions are illegal in the UAE and Qatar. The New York Times reported that the conditions in the UAE were “indentured servitude.” According to Qatar CEO, Al Bakar, “if you did not have unions, you wouldn’t have this jobless problem in the western world”.

When everything is linked together, what frightens me the most is the “Equity Alliance” program Etihad has. Using government subsidies, Etihad purchases investments in many failing airlines. These airlines, including Air Berlin, Virgin Australia, and Alitalia, weren’t able to turn a profit for a reason. Instead of failing or changing, as operators in the free market must, these airlines are finding new life as feed for Etihad’s global carrier.

With the advantages noted above – all due to government intervention on behalf of their airlines – what will the ME3 do to our industry? If allowed to continue their subsidized advance into our market, what will stop them from not only competing with US3, but the LCCs and mid-sized carriers as well? Let’s be honest, if these carriers put a B-777 on FLL-LIM or MIA-PTY, or PBI-AUA at a competitive price point, which airline would passengers choose? It is not just the big three airlines that have to worry. We are all affected and, unless something is done, we will allow the ME3 to become an unstoppable force.

We have already seen the results in other parts of the world. Australian carrier Qantas has cut international flying back since Emirates’ entry. European carriers are now cutting flying and laying off pilots.

The ME3 argument is competition. If they offer a better service for less, isn’t it just simple competition, simply “just running an airline” as Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways states. “Choice, it’s a wonderful thing”- Emirates’ slogan.  My own airline, Spirit, often makes similar arguments. However, Spirit didn’t receive $42 billion in free money from our government. We’re building our airline under the same rules everyone else is playing by: make a profit or die.

Through our Open Skies agreements, the ME3 have access to the nearly 500 commercial airports in the U.S. and in return we have access to their three. Don’t get me wrong, the U.S. Open Skies agreements has been extremely beneficial to the U.S. Open Skies is meant to promote liberalization and remove government influence from the international air service market and to ensure a fair and equal opportunity to compete for all. But, those same Open Skies agreements which allow the ME3 to fly here actually forbid these kinds of market distorting subsidies. We have the right to tell those nations to either play by the rules, to operate their airlines under in a free market, or cancel the agreements.

This part, however, involves all of us. Our administration needs to be convinced that this is a priority for ALL pilots and the entire U.S. airline industry. Every pilot should contribute to ALPA-PAC, fill out the call-to-action, and participate in ALPA’s district advocacy program. Only through all of us voicing the truth will we win on this and every other pilot partisan issue.

To learn more and for ways to help, please visit


Posted in Foreign Ownership, Leveling the Playing Field | Leave a comment


This gallery contains 8 photos.

Thank you to all the pilots who’ve taken their time to schedule meetings with a member of Congress this month!    

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Congress Joins Fight Against ME3

On Thursday, April 30, 2015, Representatives Dold (R-IL), Lipinski (D-IL), Emmer (R-MN), and Pallone (D-NJ) announced that 262 Members of Congress had joined a letter to the Secretaries of State and Transportation urging them to open consultations with the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

These 262 Representatives are “concerned that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are using… subsidies and other unfair practices to distort the market in favor of their state-owned airlines, contrary to U.S. Open Skies policy,” according to the letter. “These actions artificially boost these state-owned carriers and undermine the principles of open competition essential to the airline industry.”

ALPA has been working with an ever-growing Partnership of labor unions and air carriers to urge the U.S. government to open consultations with these two Persian Gulf countries on our Open Skies agreements. Our coalition has found definitive proof of over $40 billion in subsidies going to Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways (also known as the “ME3”) in just the past decade. These massive, unprecedented subsidies make it impossible for U.S. carriers to compete on a level playing field, costing our industry routes and our profession jobs.

The full list of Members of the House of Representatives who have joined ALPA so far in fighting back against the unfair ME3 subsidies is included below. If you don’t see your elected Representative here, join our call to action to encourage their participation.

ALPA applauds those Members of Congress who have already taken action to ensure our airlines can compete on a level playing field internationally and that U.S. pilot jobs are protected!

Member Name Party State
Don Young R AK
Bradley Byrne R AL
Mike Rogers R AL
Mo Brooks R AL
Steve Womack R AR
French Hill R AR
Bruce Westerman R AR
Ann Kirkpatrick D AZ
Ruben Gallego D AZ
Matt Salmon R AZ
Raul Grijalva D AZ
Kyrsten Sinema D AZ
Trent Franks R AZ
Martha McSally R AZ
Paul Gosar R AZ
David G. Valadao R CA
John Garamendi D CA
Duncan Hunter R CA
Adam Schiff D CA
Loretta Sanchez D CA
Alan Lowenthal D CA
Paul Cook R CA
Doug LaMalfa R CA
Ted Lieu D CA
Jim Costa D CA
Lucille Roybal-Allard D CA
Linda T. Sanchez D CA
Doris O. Matsui D CA
Mike Thompson D CA
Mark Takano D CA
Brad Sherman D CA
Tony Cardenas D CA
Ami Bera D CA
Juan Vargas D CA
Grace Napolitano D CA
Maxine Waters D CA
Jared Huffman D CA
Mike Honda D CA
Janice Hahn D CA
Julia Brownley D CA
Judy Chu D CA
Scott Peters D CA
Raul Ruiz D CA
Pete Aguilar D CA
Eric Swalwell D CA
Norma Torres D CA
Lois Capps D CA
Jeff Denham R CA
Sam Farr D CA
Xavier Becerra D CA
Mark DeSaulnier D CA
Jackie Speier D CA
Mike Coffman R CO
Diana DeGette D CO
Jared Polis D CO
Ed Perlmutter D CO
Elizabeth Esty D CT
John B. Larson D CT
Rosa DeLauro D CT
Joe Courtney D CT
Jim Himes D CT
Eleanor Holmes Norton D DC
Frederica Wilson D FL
Lois Frankel D FL
Alan Grayson D FL
Alcee L. Hastings D FL
Carlos Curbelo R FL
Kathy Castor D FL
Ted Yoho R FL
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R FL
Dennis Ross R FL
Rich Nugent R FL
Patrick Murphy D FL
David W. Jolly R FL
Debbie Wasserman Schultz D FL
Gus M. Bilirakis R FL
Tom Rooney R FL
Ted Deutch R FL
Tom Graves R GA
Rick W. Allen R GA
John Lewis D GA
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson D GA
Lynn Westmoreland R GA
Earl L. “Buddy” Carter R GA
Sanford Bishop D GA
Doug Collins R GA
Tom Price, M.D. R GA
David Scott D GA
Jody Hice R GA
Austin Scott R GA
Barry Loudermilk R GA
Rob Woodall R GA
Madeleine Z. Bordallo D GU
Mark Takai D HI
Tulsi Gabbard D HI
Dave Loebsack D IA
Bob Dold R IL
Cheri Bustos D IL
Mike Quigley D IL
Randy Hultgren R IL
Luis Gutiérrez D IL
Jan Schakowsky D IL
Adam Kinzinger R IL
Bill Foster D IL
Robin Kelly D IL
Dan Lipinski D IL
Tammy Duckworth D IL
Mike Bost R IL
Peter Roskam R IL
Bobby Rush D IL
Rodney Davis R IL
Danny Davis D IL
John Shimkus R IL
Pete Visclosky D IN
Susan Brooks R IN
Andre Carson D IN
Kevin Yoder R KS
Brett Guthrie R KY
John Fleming R LA
Cedric Richmond D LA
Stephen F. Lynch D MA
Michael Capuano D MA
William R. Keating D MA
James P. McGovern D MA
Katherine Clark D MA
Seth Moulton D MA
Elijah E. Cummings D MD
Donna F. Edwards D MD
Chris Van Hollen D MD
Chellie Pingree D ME
Bruce Poliquin R ME
Tim Walberg R MI
Bill Huizenga R MI
Brenda Lawrence D MI
Dan Benishek R MI
David Trott R MI
Fred Upton R MI
John Conyers D MI
Mike Bishop R MI
Candice Miller R MI
Sander Levin D MI
John Moolenaar R MI
Debbie Dingell D MI
Dan Kildee D MI
Tom Emmer R MN
Timothy Walz D MN
Rick Nolan D MN
Betty McCollum D MN
Erik Paulsen R MN
Collin C. Peterson D MN
John Kline R MN
Keith Ellison D MN
Sam Graves R MO
Ryan Zinke R MT
Mark Meadows R NC
Robert Pittenger R NC
Patrick McHenry R NC
Walter Jones R NC
Richard Hudson R NC
David Rouzer R NC
Virginia Foxx R NC
Renee Ellmers R NC
Alma Adams D NC
George Holding R NC
Kevin Cramer R ND
Ann McLane Kuster D NH
Frank Pallone D NJ
Donald M. Payne Jr. D NJ
Chris Smith R NJ
Bill Pascrell D NJ
Leonard Lance R NJ
Albio Sires D NJ
Rodney Frelinghuysen R NJ
Bonnie Watson Coleman D NJ
Donald Norcross D NJ
Scott Garrett R NJ
Tom MacArthur R NJ
Ben Ray Lujan D NM
Steve Pearce R NM
Michelle Lujan Grisham D NM
Paul Tonko D NY
Brian Higgins D NY
Steve Israel D NY
Richard Hanna R NY
Chris Collins R NY
Tom Reed R NY
Charles Rangel D NY
Grace Meng D NY
Joe Crowley D NY
Kathleen Rice D NY
Sean Patrick Maloney D NY
Jose Serrano D NY
Chris Gibson R NY
John Katko R NY
Jerrold Nadler D NY
Hakeem Jeffries D NY
Carolyn Maloney D NY
David P. Joyce R OH
Steve Chabot R OH
Tim Ryan D OH
Marcy Kaptur D OH
Bill Johnson R OH
Bob Gibbs R OH
Steve Stivers R OH
Brad Wenstrup R OH
James Renacci R OH
Jim Bridenstine R OK
Frank Lucas R OK
Greg Walden R OR
Peter DeFazio D OR
Patrick Meehan R PA
Matt Cartwright D PA
Chaka Fattah D PA
Charlie Dent R PA
Brendan F. Boyle D PA
Mike Doyle D PA
Mike Fitzpatrick R PA
Ryan Costello R PA
Lou Barletta R PA
Scott Perry R PA
Tim Murphy R PA
Bill Shuster R PA
Jim Langevin D RI
Kristi Noem R SD
Scott DesJarlais R TN
Gene Green D TX
Ted Poe R TX
Marc Veasey D TX
Michael Burgess R TX
Louie Gohmert R TX
Pete Sessions R TX
Jeb Hensarling R TX
Ruben Hinojosa D TX
Filemon Vela D TX
Lamar Smith R TX
John Culberson R TX
John Carter R TX
Brian Babin R TX
John Ratcliffe R TX
Kenny Marchant R TX
Sheila Jackson Lee D TX
Kay Granger R TX
Pete Olson R TX
Eddie Bernice Johnson D TX
Blake Farenthold R TX
Lloyd Doggett D TX
Sam Johnson R TX
Mac Thornberry R TX
Randy Neugebauer R TX
Rob Bishop R UT
Chris Stewart R UT
Barbara Comstock R VA
Gerald E. Connolly D VA
Bobby Scott D VA
Robert Goodlatte R VA
Don Beyer D VA
Peter Welch D VT
Jim McDermott D WA
Adam Smith D WA
Jaime Herrera Beutler R WA
Suzan DelBene D WA
Derek Kilmer D WA
Mark Pocan D WI
Glen Grothman R WI
David B. McKinley, P.E. R WV
Evan Jenkins R WV
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Safety Is and Always Will Be Our Number One Priority

Securing the safety of our nation’s aviation system is our industry’s top priority. In order to maintain our standing as the safest air transport system in the world, we rely on a multilayer approach to security, using numerous strategies that all play important roles. One of those critical layers is the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program.

Since 2003, the FFDO program has been tremendously successful as a strong, ongoing deterrent against hijacking threats. FFDOs are cargo and passenger pilots who volunteer their personal time in order to receive the training required to become deputized FFDOs, and these pilot volunteers pay a portion of the expenses associated with the program. In total, thousands of ALPA pilots flying for cargo and passenger airlines have volunteered their time defending our airspace, securing nearly a million flight segments every year without any personal compensation.

The FFDO program is a proven and cost-effective component of transportation security in this country and has often been praised by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the additional layer of protection it brings to air transportation.

In the light of recent global security concerns, fiscally responsible programs like FFDO is simply sound policy. The cost to secure the cockpit with an FFDO is approximately $17 per flight; this program is not only good public policy, it makes good economic sense.

The program needs to be strengthened, not eliminated. President Obama’s 2015 budget blueprint cut FFDO funding and eliminated TSA staff positions that are critical to maintaining the program. Today’s FFDO program is already at minimal funding levels and unless adequate numbers of pilots are accepted for training on an ongoing basis, the program will shrink and fail.

Along with ALPA pilots who continue every day to make many personal sacrifices to protect our nation’s airline passengers, crews, and cargo by serving as FFDOs, our union will continue to lead the fight to ensure this crucial program continues to protect lives and airplanes.

Please participate today in ALPA’s latest Call to Action by clicking here. It takes less than two minutes and sends the message to the White House about the importance of protecting funding for this program.

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2015 Congress Must Ensure Fair Competition for U.S. Airlines

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Canada Adopts ICAO Standard on Lithium Batteries

Six months after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announced its intent to ban the transport of lithium-metal batteries as cargo on passenger flights, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, announced a suite of amendments to Canada’s Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR). The updates include a ban on transporting lithium-metal batteries as cargo on passenger flights in Canada, effective January 1, 2015.

Most Canadian carriers have already voluntarily banned the carrying of these batteries as a safety precaution. The United States has banned the carrying of lithium batteries as cargo on passenger planes since 2004, and it was in July 2014 that ICAO finally adopted a worldwide standard on the issue.

This action supports ALPA’s ongoing effort to strengthen ICAO provisions for the carriage of lithium batteries as cargo by cargo airlines. By instituting the ban in accordance with ICAO standards, Canada and others in industry and government have recognized the risks associated with carrying lithium batteries as cargo. The logical next step for ICAO, Canada, and the United States is the development of special packaging and carriage limitations for all-cargo aircraft as well.

The ban applies to carrying lithium batteries as cargo only. Passengers and flight crews will still be able to bring personal devices that use lithium-ion batteries onboard.

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