SWAPA Urges House Passage of AIRR Act

Pilots of Southwest Airlines support legislation to modernize FAA, improve aviation safety and efficiency

Feb 25, 2016, 12:45 ET from Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association

DALLAS, Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On behalf of the more than 8,000 pilots of Southwest Airlines, Captain Jon Weaks, President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA), expressed his support today for H.R. 4441, the Aviation, Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act. 

Statement to be attributed to SWAPA President, Captain Jon Weaks:

"For too long, the delays in upgrading our air traffic control technology have led to costly delays for passengers on the ground. As passed by the Committee, the AIRR Act will take bold and significant steps to separate the FAA's air traffic controllers from the federal bureaucracy that has deprived them of the tools necessary to best do their job. Freeing ATC from the FAA will allow the Agency to concentrate on its core mission of safety. At the same time, the new ATC board laid out by the legislation will include a balance of interests from every segment of aviation, including pilot labor, which will focus on modernization and efficiency of the system. Importantly, under the AIRR Act, our air traffic controllers will continue to be the best of the best, but will do so with access to equipment and working conditions that once again lead the world.

The AIRR Act guides us towards modernization while taking essential steps to increase safety. Importantly, the AIRR Act includes a provision important to the aircraft mechanics of Southwest Airlines to provide greater oversight and accountability of foreign repair station employees. Additionally, the AIRR Act will promote harmonization with the international community on the shipment and storage of lithium-ion batteries, require risk assessment to address cockpit safety, and will include new science-based rest and duty rules for flight attendants. Specifically, SWAPA appreciates the efforts of Representative Bob Gibbs to pass an amendment to ensure the ATC board created by the bill will include a balanced voice for pilot labor. 

While we endorse this legislation, SWAPA would like to see additional improvements to the AIRR Act to ensure that all pilots with access to the National Airspace System are healthy and fit for duty. In particular, SWAPA would encourage the adoption of an amendment offered and withdrawn during committee markup by Rep. Ryan Costello to create an Aviation Rulemaking Committee to address Part 135 pilot rest and duty rules. In addition, SWAPA supports inclusion of bipartisan legislation championed by Senators Jim Inhofe and Joe Manchin, and passed by the Senate Commerce Committee as a Manchin amendment in November, to reform third-class pilot medical certification.

The professional pilots of SWAPA are grateful for the efforts of the bipartisan House Transportation Committee leadership to improve this important legislation throughout Committee consideration. We look forward to working with Chairmen Shuster and LoBiondo as well as Ranking Members DeFazio and Larsen to further improve this legislation as it continues through the legislative process."

Located in Dallas, Texas, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) is a non-profit employee organization representing the more than 8,000 pilots of Southwest Airlines. SWAPA works to provide a secure and rewarding career for Southwest pilots and their families through negotiating contracts, defending contractual rights and actively promoting professionalism and safety. For more information on the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, visit www.swapa.org.  


SOURCE Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association