FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Capt. Dennis Tajer, 847-902-8481
Allied Pilots Association Statement on National Transportation Safety Board
FORT WORTH, Texas (Feb. 10, 2023) – As the representative of the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, the Allied Pilots Association has registered its concerns over the National Transportation Safety Board’s recent insistence on electronically recording crew interviews during investigations.
As professional aviators, we support the vital role played by the NTSB in investigating accidents and incidents in furtherance of its mission to promote safety in aviation. We have a vested interest in the work performed by the NTSB and have a long history of working cooperatively with the Board on investigations.
In most instances, NTSB incident investigations include requests to interview the crew members involved. Historically, these interviews have been conducted in a manner in which notes were taken by the parties or a stenographic record was produced. Those methods have long been sufficient in producing accurate records and enabling the Board to produce thorough reports and findings. Recently, however, Board investigators have begun requiring that some witness interviews be both transcribed and electronically recorded in the name of producing a “more accurate record.”
We join in the goal of creating an accurate record of all interviews conducted in the course of an investigation. However, we firmly believe the introduction of electronic recording devices into witness interviews is more likely to hinder the investigation process than it is to improve it. Not only may the recording of interviews lead to less candid responses from those witnesses who may choose to proceed under such requirements, but the existence and potential availability of interview recordings upon conclusion of an investigation will tend to lead many otherwise willing crew members to elect not to participate in interviews at all. Either outcome would not serve to advance the goal of conducting effective investigations in order to promote aviation safety.
NTSB investigations are intended to be fact-finding proceedings with no adverse parties. We do not believe that this should be an adversarial issue. In fact, the Board’s own published investigation manuals reflect its long-held position that the non-consensual recording of witness interviews is not permitted. Implementing changes to established practices, especially those with a demonstrated history of success, in a way that discourages otherwise cooperative witnesses from participating in the fact-finding process is antithetical to the purpose and goal of the NTSB.
We are confident that an acceptable solution to this issue exists that would satisfy the needs and concerns of all parties involved in these investigatory interviews.
Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association – the largest independent pilots union in the United States – is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is AlliedPilots.org.