For Immediate Release

December 18, 2008
Contact: Les Dorr, Jr or Alison Duquette
Phone: 202-267-3883

WASHINGTON — Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Robert A. Sturgell today urged air carriers and labor unions to resolve their differences and keep voluntary reporting programs in place, stressing their importance and value to aviation safety.

“Using safety as a chip at the bargaining table is unconscionable,” Sturgell said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to separate safety from labor issues. These voluntary reporting programs are crucial to safety, and it’s disappointing to see them cast aside at a time when they’re needed most.”

Sturgell’s call for action followed the recent failure by US Airways and its pilots to agree on continuing involvement in the carrier’s Aviation Action Safety Program (ASAP). Previously, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and their pilots could not agree to continue ASAP participation.

The FAA this year implemented a voluntary reporting program with its air traffic controllers and plans to expand the program to include maintenance technicians. Just last month, American Airlines and its flight attendants began an ASAP program.

ASAP encourages air carrier and repair station employees to voluntarily report safety information that may be critical to identifying potential safety issues. Under ASAP, these issues are thoroughly analyzed and resolved through corrective action without fear of punishment.

The programs are based on a safety partnership that includes the FAA, the company, and the employees’ labor organization or an employee representative. Today, more than 70 operators have almost 170 programs covering pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and dispatchers.