International pilot unions join forces against single-pilot operations

Three international unions joined forces to oppose single-pilot operations
Sorbis /

Several pilot unions, including the International Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), European Cockpit Association (ECA), and International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), came together to form a coalition against single-pilot operations. 

The coalition plans “to prevent airlines and manufacturers from pushing ahead with plans to remove pilots from the flight deck, a profit-driven scheme that poses a significant safety risk.” ALPA, ECA, and IFALPA said they will act to “protect the flying public and counter an aggressive corporate-led lobbying campaign targeting regulators around the world, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).” 

Citing a study by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the unions pointed out that there are “unacceptable safety risks posed by single-pilot flight operations, especially during abnormal events and emergencies,” yet airlines and aircraft manufacturers are pressuring regulators to “profits first and introduce an unacceptable level of safety risk to commercial aviation”. 

“Whether you depart from New York, San Francisco, or Atlanta bound for London, Paris, or Tokyo, a crew of at least two qualified, experienced, trained, and rested airline pilots is at the controls on the flight deck of your plane,” jointly stated Jason Ambrosi, the President of ALPA, Jack Netskar, the President of IFALPA, and Otjan de Bruijn, the President of ECA. The three union Presidents and Captains added that every aspect on a flight was “deliberately designed for a team working together on the flight deck”. 

“Despite developments in automation and improved technologies on the flight deck, two pilots at the controls remain the most important safety features of an aircraft,” the statement continued. “Technology, no matter how sophisticated, is not a replacement for pilots on the flight deck.” 

Previously, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) Chief Expert of Operational Suitability Andrea Boiardi, stated that the agency currently does not envision that single-pilot operations would be allowed by 2030. At the same time, Boiardi did not rule out that some phases of the flight would be operated by a single person in the cockpit by 2027. 

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