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EAA Fires Back at ALPA
Airline pilots’ union attacks PBOR2, EAA calls on members to redouble efforts
July 25, 2015 - EAA and other general aviation groups are reacting strongly and swiftly to an inflammatory letter from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) that surfaced Friday night, inaccurately characterizing GA’s efforts to reform aeromedical certification.
The letter, which was sent to all United States senators, makes numerous false and unsubstantiated claims regarding efforts to expand freedoms in GA and reform the third-class medical requirement for many private pilots.
The letter urges senators to reject an amendment to the highway bill offered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) that would reform the third-class medical certification for pilots. A vote on that amendment could occur as early as this coming Tuesday, July 28.
Saturday morning EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton strongly refuted ALPA’s unsubstantiated claims and urged the EAA membership to redouble their efforts to support reform of aeromedical certification.
“We sat in a forum earlier this morning with many ALPA members who are EAA members, who fly for the airlines, who have great careers that started in general aviation and they’re just flat out shaking their heads saying, ‘what the hell is going on?’” he said. “Current and past ALPA members who also fly recreationally should be angered that their union has decided to turn its back on general aviation.”
The proposed aeromedical reform is contained in the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR2), authored by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), and EAA has worked hard to expand cosponsorship of the bill to 57 senators.
Pelton spoke at an AirVenture forum hosted by Sen. Inhofe on Saturday morning. Also attending were pilots and EAA members Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana), along with Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisconsin) who represents the Oshkosh area.
It was the first time ALPA had expressed any position regarding the bipartisan congressional effort that EAA and AOPA had spearheaded for the past four years.
Pelton said that not only has ALPA never reached out to those working on this vital issue, they are completely out of step with the two other air carrier unions; the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association and Allied Pilots Association have both been working with the GA community on this issue, including signing onto an industry-wide letter of support for the Manchin-Boozman Amendment.
“The rhetoric from ALPA is most disappointing and utterly out of step with the rest of the general aviation and airline pilot community,” Pelton added. “Why it would turn its back on the community that inspires, supplies, and trains its professional aviators is baffling, especially when the vast majority of statistics and opinions by safety professionals, regulators, and other pilots agree that ALPA’s position has no basis and makes no sense.
“It’s especially shortsighted when one considers that the health of GA is directly connected to the health of the airline pilot community.”
EAA and AOPA have been working in support of their members and all GA pilots by creating a third-class aeromedical exemption proposal that resulted in draft FAA rulemaking—currently stalled in the Department of Transportation—and by urging their members to support PBOR2.
“For 25 years, EAA has supported aeromedical reform because the safety facts support it and it will eliminate financial and other burdens to GA pilots,” Pelton said. “This is as far as we’ve ever advanced, with 57 co-sponsors to bring the amendment to the Senate floor. We need all EAA members and GA pilots to contact their senators now to support this amendment and turn aside the falsehoods and political rhetoric from groups such as ALPA.
“Further, GA pilots who are current and past ALPA members need to stand up and tell their union that it is wrong based on facts and the views of the rest of the general aviation and professional pilot communities.”
Senate bill S. 571, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, is also the language used in the Manchin-Boozman amendment. Sen. Inhofe is also urging GA pilots to act swiftly, carrying that message to numerous appearances at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this week.
Visit govt.eaa.org for the Rally Congress tool to get contact information for your Senators. You can also get your senators’ contact information by calling 202-224-3121.
Remember, the vote could happen as soon as this Tuesday, so contact your senators today.