Interview: Reo Pratt, Northwest Airlines A320 Aircrew Program Manager (APM)




Interview: Reo Pratt, Northwest Airlines A320 Aircrew Program Manager (APM)  

Date: November 19, 2009

Location: Phone interview

Time: 1500  

Present were: David Tew, Malcolm Brenner, David Lawrence- National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); T.R. Proven –FAA (by phone); Pete Sahler – Northwest Airlines (by phone); Dan Coogan – ALPA (by phone)  

During the interview, Mr. Pratt stated the following information:  

He had been with the FAA since February of 1997. He said that prior to the FAA, he flew corporate aviation for about eight years, and prior to that he was chief pilot for a small Part 121 carrier called Viking Airlines, where he flew Convairs and B-727s. He stated that he came to the FAA as assistant APM in 2004 and in 2006 became APM on the A320 at Northwest Airlines. He stated that he was typed rated on the A-320 airplane has flown the aircraft, but has not flown the airplane in revenue or line service. He said he had various assistants including an assistant APM who was a very experienced A320 pilot who had previously flown for USAirways. He said he was not involved in the Northwest/Delta merger integration team, but would help resolve any fleet specific requests or questions the team may have, and that occurred regarding all the fleets.  

Regarding the merger, he said he had never before been in a merger of this size and that they were all “forging new ground” with this merger. He said there had been major changes that had required more work, and said they had “battles” with the company regarding procedural changes that had been sought and rejected, but the process was “respectful and energetic”. He said it had been a high level of work and activity for each step in the process. He said he used to collect NTSB blue cover accident reports, and that he learned that every large merger in history had some type of accident associated with the merger and they voiced this concern with the APDs, and this merger was a “huge historical risk” and they didn’t want to participate in past history. He said that the feedback he had received regarding this event, both before and after, was that this event was a “one off”, and he had never heard of this happening before.  

Both before the Northwest 188 event and after, he had positive experiences with a lot of captains who would identify the merger related issues during the pre-flight briefing and worked to keep them out of the cockpit,. He said that this event had nothing to do with the cockpit procedural changes that had been recently implemented. He said that the distraction was an effect of the merger, but was not anything related to the phased in procedural changes.

He stated that he did not know the incident pilots personally, and did not recall if he had been on an observation ride with them.  

He said there was no audible tone associated with the ACARS message, and was not aware if there was an option for it. He said he asked a USAirways pilot if they had that option, and was told they did not have that option as well.  


Regarding pilot morale, he said that it had been “fairly positive”, but he had heard some antidotal evidence of pilots who had some seniority concerns, but had not heard anything personally.  

When asked how each phased change was communicated to the pilots,, he said that the pilots would receive the manuals three weeks prior to the procedure change, and would also receive an overview of each change. He said that pilots were also required to participate in online “distributed training” for each phase change. They were paid for the training, and failure to complete the training would prevent them from signing on for a particular trip. He said that he “believes” that the language in the Northwest FOM regarding the prohibition of laptops in the cockpit prior to the merger was identical to the current language.  

He stated that he did not know about the A320 MEL 23-24-01B that references an “ACARS chime”, but believed it might be a part of the software changes to the flight warning computer (FWC).  

He said that there was no consideration from the FAA office regarding merger related changes that effected vacation, bidding and pay issues. He said that he receives an overview of the line operations reviews, and had not seen any ALPA feedback forms that were shared with the company. He said that the phase 4 implementation was still scheduled for January 1, 2010 and that there was no discussion of delaying it. He stated that FAA was briefed on a December 15, 2009 “Pilot Orientation Part 2”, but it was not an FAA mandated deadline.  

Interview concluded at 1530

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