ALPA President Calls Effort to Remove Pilots from the Flight Deck ‘Single Greatest Threat’ to Aviation Safety


MEMPHIS—In a speech at the Air Line Pilots Association Int’l (ALPA) Cargo Symposium this week, ALPA president Capt. Jason Ambrosi discussed current industry-led efforts to eliminate pilots from the flight deck and called it the “single greatest existential threat” to the piloting profession, making clear that the effort would eventually expand beyond cargo operations and include passenger flights as well. The symposium brought together participants from every corner of the aviation industry for an in-depth look into air-cargo operations and the impact on airline pilots in the United States and Canada.

“I believe that this issue is the single greatest threat to aviation safety. This is about removing pilots—all of us—from the flight deck over time,” said Ambrosi during his opening remarks. “Reduced-crew operations is a tipping point—for our profession and the safety of our skies. And it’s not happening a decade from now, it’s happening right now. The scale of this threat should make everyone in this room sit up and take notice—and want to fight back, which is exactly what ALPA is doing.”

Capt. Ambrosi led a robust panel discussion on the current efforts to eliminate pilots from the flight deck and highlighted that an aggressive lobbying campaign is underway in Europe to persuade the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to consider allowing reduced-crew operations. While the first stage would only apply to long-haul cargo flights, Ambrosi made clear that over time this would eventually be expanded to include passenger flights as well.

During Capt. Ambrosi’s opening remarks, he also called on lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation that provides the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with the funding and policy direction it needs to maintain the safest, most complex aviation system in the world.

“Whether it’s the FedEx Austin near-miss event last year or the Alaska Flight 1282 door plug accident just a few weeks ago, there are many reminders all around us that Congress must act now to provide the FAA the funding and policy direction it needs to keep the U.S. aviation system the safest in the world. I urge the Senate to act expeditiously to pass an FAA reauthorization bill that enhances safety and does not introduce uncertainty into a system that is working to protect passengers, crews, and cargo,” said Ambrosi.

In addition to highlighting current efforts to combat reduced-crew operations, ALPA Cargo Symposium attendees are also engaging in important discussions about critical issues affecting air cargo pilots. From cargo security, fire-suppression systems, and the need to ensure a cohesive, safe, and secure operating environment for all, the shared mission of maintaining a safe, secure, and efficient air cargo industry is the foundation of each panel.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 77,000 pilots at 43 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @ALPAPilots.


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