SWAPA Praises Passage of Landmark Safety Reforms

Jul 30, 2010, 14:03 ET from Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association

DALLAS, July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines pilots today applauded House and Senate passage of H.R. 5900, the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010. This bill moves forward key safety provisions that Southwest pilots have long advocated, including higher standards for pilot training, support for safety advocacy programs and a new pilot fatigue rule to help improve safety for our most precious cargo, our passengers.

"This important legislation strengthens aviation safety, a longtime priority for SWAPA and Southwest Airlines," said Capt. Carl Kuwitzky, SWAPA President. "We thank the leadership and staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for having the vision to advance these critical reforms in Congress now when we need it most."

House Transportation Chair James L. Oberstar (D-MN) and Aviation Subcommittee Chair Jerry F. Costello (D-IL) introduced H.R. 5900. Co-sponsored by Ranking T&I members Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), this bi-partisan effort will require all pilots to have an FAA Airline Transport Pilot's (ATP) certificate before flying for a Part 121 carrier.

In current practice, many smaller carriers hire pilots right out of flight school with as little as 250 hours of flight experience and very little night, heavy air traffic or adverse weather flying experience. The ATP rating requires 1500 hours of flight time and experience in various conditions before flying passengers for an airline.

H.R. 5900 requires the FAA to promulgate a rule on long overdue changes to flight and duty time limits within one year. SWAPA pilot representatives participated in the FAA's Aviation Rulemaking Committee, advising Administrator Randy Babbitt in efforts to make science-based changes critical to fighting fatigue in the cockpit. This legislation also embraces critical voluntary disclosure reporting programs and requires all carriers to have safety management systems in place. SWAPA and Southwest were leaders in helping to launch these critical safety programs years ago.

"H.R. 5900 is an important first step but the job isn't finished yet," Capt. Kuwitzky said. "There is critical work still not done for a long-term reauthorization of the FAA. The flying public will benefit from the safer, more direct and environmentally friendly routes that will come with funding of the FAA's Next Generation airspace management system. Our pilots and our Company are once again taking a lead on this modernization. It's time now for Congress to do the same."

Located in Dallas, Texas, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) is a non-profit employee organization representing the more than 5,900 pilots of Southwest Airlines. For more information, visit www.swapa.org.

SOURCE Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association