It is truly a good morning, because we are here to make an important change. One that is going to improve aviation safety and that has been long overdue.
Even better, we have some great partners in aviation safety with us:
Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants are here.
And we have the women and men who serve as flight attendants … and critical crew members of every flight here.
So thank you to all of you for joining us.
Earlier this morning, I signed the paperwork and, the ink may be drying still, that increases rest periods for flight attendants to 10 consecutive hours. No exceptions!
It’s been a long road, and it’s about time. I can tell you it’s been a priority for me and for this administration, and that’s why we’re here today.
I am a pilot. Any pilot will tell you that we cannot fly the plane without the safety expertise and support of flight attendants.
Flight attendants are trained to take action during emergencies, administer first aid, conduct evacuations and manage medical emergencies. They know the location of every piece of equipment needed during an emergency-- fire extinguishers, first aid kits, flotation devices, oxygen masks, and emergency slides. They also have to check that equipment before flight.
I spent 11 years as captain on the MD80. And I remember having a hydraulic issue on one flight. I briefed the flight attendants, and we let the passengers know we were returning to Dallas due to a mechanical issue.
As always, the flight attendants did an incredible job making sure the passengers were informed, but also making sure they were safe and felt confident as we returned to the airport.
During those years, I remember many times being at maximum duty with minimal layover time. And flight attendants had even fewer rest hours than pilots. I worked alongside them, traveled with them, and I will tell you firsthand that well rested crewmembers are important to safety.
And, as we have seen too often recently, they are on the front lines responding to unruly passengers who could threaten the safety of the flight and other passengers.
Like I said, they need just as much rest. Because flight attendants are the foundation of aviation’s safety culture, starting with cabin safety.
Everyone knows about the landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. There were actually two miracles on the Hudson that day—first, landing the plane. The second was just as important: it was the flight attendants who got the passengers off the plane and kept them safe throughout the entire event.
The bottom line is that the rest period increase for flight attendants corrects a historical inequity. And now I am pleased to turn it over to Sara Nelson for remarks.