ALPA Testifies Against Cameras In Cockpit and Psychological Testing



ALPA Testifies Against Cameras In Cockpit and Psychological Testing

April 11, 2000, WASHINGTON --- The president of the nation’s oldest and largest airline pilots’ union today told Congress that pilots strongly disagree with the notion that video surveillance and psychological testing of flight deck crews will make any contribution toward increased air safety.  "ALPA has a proud 69-year history of safety advocacy," said Captain Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), "but these issues are both a waste of precious resources and a senseless intrusion on pilots’ privacy. To the uninitiated," he said prior to the hearings, "cockpit video, as well as psychological testing of pilots, has the false allure of the all-inclusive solution to the nature and cause of every aircraft accident and incident. The reality is that video surveillance and psychological testing of pilots will not prevent accidents."

On the topic of cockpit cameras, Woerth’s testimony underlined the fact that video is not the answer to increasing air safety.  "Air safety will be far better served by continuing to focus on improved flight recorders and proactive safety programs such as Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)," Woerth said. Protecting pilots’ privacy and the release of data for inappropriate purposes is ALPA’s highest concern with regard to cameras in the cockpit.

Experience with cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) in the past 40 years has proven that regardless of NTSB procedures, pilots are not protected from the misuse of data collected for the sole purpose of enhancing air safety. "The CVR has been used for sensational purposes by the media. It has been used by litigants in civil and criminal cases. It has even been used by employers for surveillance and disciplinary purposes," said Woerth. "This is unacceptable."  At the recent International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) meeting in Tokyo, pilots worldwide united behind a resolute statement against the unfettered invasion of cameras into their cockpits that said:


"Unless and until all member States of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) subscribe to, enact and implement strong protective measures to positively guarantee protection of privileged information, and strict measures are imposed for abuses of national laws and regulations governing the use of cockpit recorder derived information, new and enhanced cockpit information collection devices will not be accepted by the international air line pilot profession."

On the subject of psychological testing, ALPA contends that pilots are already subject to rigorous and thorough screening and evaluation by airlines prior to employment, including psychological testing and performance evaluation, and during employment through FAA and company-mandated medical examinations. "Routine psychological testing of airline pilots is unnecessary. There are already ample means during daily operations, recurrent training, crew resource management programs and company evaluations to identify improper pilot behavior," Woerth said. A third subject of ALPA testimony centered on English language proficiency of pilots. ALPA has long been a strong proponent of standardizing voice communications between pilots and controllers. ALPA is the world’s oldest and largest pilots union, representing 55,000 crewmembers at 51 carriers in Canada and the U.S.

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